The feed from the the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles was then pulled for millions around the world, but viewers in Australia and Japan got a far clearer picture of events - and the unedited footage of the baffling incident has since been shared on social media.
A visibly shocked Rock said after being hit: “Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.”
Smith, who was visibly furious, then shouted: “Keep my wife's name, out of your f***ing mouth."
If you\u2019re confused about what the hell just happened at the #Oscars between Will Smith and Chris Rock, here\u2019s the unedited versionpic.twitter.com/VGv0o8IvMk
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@Hannah Jane Parkinson)
It came after Rock began making GI Jane jokes at the expense of Smith's wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. He was presumably upset given the reason for his wife's short-hair; she's battled with alopecia for years.
"It was a GI Jane joke," Rock said, before Smith angrily shouted the same response.
“That was the greatest night in the history of television," he then added, clearly dazed by what had just happened.
As you can imagine, it’s all the internet is talking about after the ceremony and social media had a field day in the aftermath – here are some of the best reactions.
Me waking up and seeing why Will Smith is trending.pic.twitter.com/KtrwCCJslZ
Smith then won Best Actor for King Richard 15 minutes after the incident took place and he referenced a piece of advice Denzel Washington had just given him.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith said. “I know, to do what we do, we’ve gotta be able to take abuse. You’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespecting you. You’ve gotta smile and pretend that that’s okay.
“Denzel said to me a few minutes ago”, adding Washington said: “‘In your highest moments, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you’.”
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