During the 94h Academy Awards, the show was running as smoothly as live television can until Chris Rock entered the stage to present an award and directed a joke at Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suggesting the bald-headed actress might appear in a GI Jane sequel.
Will initially smiled at the jab, while Jada rolled her eyes.
Whatever then exchanged between husband and wife is unknown as the camera cut back to the joke-maker, before Will marched towards his fellow actor and hit him square across the face. He then returned to his seat, yelling: "leave my wife's name out your f***ing mouth."
The joke in question referred to the 1997 Demi Moore movie GI Jane, where the actress shaved her head. Jada has recently been very open with fans about suffering hair loss due to alopecia.
Despite the Academy since revealing they asked Will Smith to leave, the actor reportedly refused and took the stage soon after to accept his first Oscar for King Richard. In his speech, Will apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees, saying "love will make you do crazy things".
The Aladdin star later released an official apology, condemning his actions on the Oscars stage, saying "violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive".
"My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear, and I reacted emotionally."
He continued by addressing Chris Rock directly: “I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.
“I would also like to apologise to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologise to the Williams family and my ‘King Richard’ family. I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.
“I am a work in progress.”