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Oscars hit by Smith’s altercation over Rock’s joke

Will Smith hits Chris Rock
Will Smith punches Chris Rock onstage at Oscars
The moment Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

Hollywood’s attempt to revive the flagging Oscars ceremony was plunged into further controversy last night when actor Will Smith strode on stage and slapped the comedian Chris Rock, claiming he had insulted his wife.

Smith, who later returned to the stage to pick up the award for best actor, took offence at a gag about Jada Pinkett Smith’s short haircut.

Rock, who was presenting the award for Best Documentary, said: “Jada, I love ya. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it”.

Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, has previously discussed publicly her struggles with hair loss.

There was an immediate suggestion that the altercation was scripted, but Rock called out: “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.”

After returning to his seat Smith shouted: “Leave my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.” The television audience did not hear the expletive as the sound was lowered by producers.

As he picked up his first Oscar for his appearance in King Richard, Smith tearfully apologised to the Academy and the audience, but not to Rock.

“I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you,” he said. 

“In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay.”

Los Angeles Police Department released a statement saying it was aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards, but that the individual involved has declined to file a police report.

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King Richard, which follows the story of Richard Williams, farther of tennis stars Serena and Venus, has so far grossed more than $15 million at the box office in the US and Canada, and more than $38 million worldwide.

The film clinched six nominations at the Awards, including best picture and best original screenplay.

The biggest award of the night went to “CODA,” giving Apple TV+ the first ever best picture win for a streaming service.

Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical Belfast earn him his first win for best original screenplay after having been nominated eight times.

New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion won best director for her brooding Western The Power of the Dog making her only the third woman to take home the award in the ceremony’s more than 90-year history.

Ariana DeBose, Steven Spielberg’s Anita in his remake of West Side Story, won the best supporting actress.

Following pressure from television network ABC to arrest an alarming slide in viewers, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted to hand out certain awards before the broadcast in an attempt to streamline the programme.

Winners included:

Film: CODA

Actor: Will Smith (King Richard)

Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)

Director: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)

Original Screenplay: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Troy Kotsur (Coda)

Actress in a Supporting Role: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)

Short Film (Live Action): The Long Goodbye

Short (Animated): The Windshield Wiper

Documentary (Short Subject): The Queen of Basketball

Original Score: Dune

Film Editing: Dune

Production Design: Dune

Makeup and Hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Cinematography: Greig Fraser (Dune)

Visual Effects: Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brain Connor and Gerd Nefzer (Dune)

Animated Feature Film: Encanto

International Feature Film – Drive My Car (Japan)

Costume design: Jenny Beavan (Cruella)

Original Screenplay: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)

Adapted Screenplay: Siân Heder (Coda)

Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos (Dune)

Music (Original Song): No Time to Die; music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

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