Will Smith wins Oscar for best actor for portraying Venus and Serena Williams' father Richard in the tennis biopic "King Richard," taking home the trophy minutes after he went viral for slapping presenter Chris Rock onstage.

Will Smith (R) hits at Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on March 27, 2022.
Will Smith (R) hits at Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on March 27, 2022. (AFP)

Will Smith has stormed the Oscars stage and struck comedian Chris Rock across the face for joking about his wife, in a moment at gala that immediately went viral and left stunned viewers questioning if it had been scripted or genuine.

Rock, presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine on Sunday, had cracked a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith's tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore's appearance in the film "G.I. Jane" and suggesting she appear in a sequel.

In a moment that triggered awkward silence and confusion in the Dolby Theatre, Smith strode up to Rock and slapped him, before returning to his seat alongside Jada and shouting profanities.

"Keep my wife's name out of your f*****g mouth," yelled Smith, forcing the producers to bleep out several seconds of audio from the televised broadcast in the United States.

Smith 'pulled aside and comforted'

Jada Pinkett Smith, who is also an actress, suffers from alopecia, and publicly revealed her diagnosis in 2018.

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg, in attendance, a tearful Smith needed to be "pulled aside and comforted" by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry during a commercial break.

"Will and Chris, we're going to solve that like family. Right now we're moving on with love," said Sean "Diddy" Combs, presenting the next section.

Smith, star of “King Richard," won his first Oscar later in the ceremony.

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said through tears.

"Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."

Deaf drama 'CODA' wins Oscar for best picture

Up until that moment, the show had been running fairly smoothly. 

Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina to win an Academy Award for supporting actress, while Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win an acting award.

Jane Campion won the Oscar best director for "The Power of the Dog," her open-plains psychodrama that twisted and upended western conventions. 

Jessica Chastain took home the Oscar for best actress, a reward for her remarkable physical transformation into a larger-than-life US televangelist in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye."

"CODA," the heartwarming indie drama about a deaf family defying the odds, won the top prize on Oscars night for best picture.

It beat a crowded field that included "Belfast," "The Power of the Dog" and "Dune" to take home the coveted prize from the 94th Academy Awards.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies