Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington could be seen consoling Will Smith after he smacked presenter Chris Rock in the face in a shocking moment during the Oscars live broadcast on Sunday night.
Rock made a joke about the hairstyle of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith that referenced the movie ‘G.I. Jane’ in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head.
Smith suffers from alopecia and the joke did not appear to sit well with her.
Smith, who fifteen minutes later won best actor for King Richard, walked on stage and slapped Rock in what at first appeared to be a scripted joke, but the mood turned to shock moments later when Smith, back in his front row seat, shouted ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.’
During his acceptance speech, Smith revealed what Washington had told him during the commercial break: ‘ Be careful at your highest moment… that’s when the devil comes for you.’
The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home.
Before that, the show had been running fairly smoothly.
Laster during a commercial break, Smith was also seen being further consoled by Tyler Perry and Bradley Cooper who placed his hands on Smith’s shoulders as he attempted to comfort him.
Just minutes after striking Rock with an open hand live on stage, Smith won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the determined father who raised tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard.
Accepting the award, Smith issued a tearful apology for his emotional outburst, saying: ‘I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment.’
In his acceptance speech, Smith appeared to channel his character by way of apologizing for his outrageous actions minutes earlier.
‘Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,’ said a visibly emotional Smith. ‘In this time in my life, in this moment I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do.’
After Smith strode out on stage and slapped Rock, the comedian staggered and exclaimed ‘wow, Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.’
Vanity Fair executive editor Ramin Setoodeh, who was tweeting live from the ceremony, said that someone who works for the Oscars told him that Rock was not interrupted by Smith at rehearsals yesterday.
‘It was not supposed to happen. It was real,’ he wrote.
Setoodeh, watching from inside the theater, said that Smith’s publicist approached him and spoke to him during a commercial break.