The star gave an emotional speech after being crowned best actor, following the altercation (Picture: Getty)
Mere moments later, the King Richard star was anointed best actor for his work on the movie about tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams’ coach father.
However, is his Oscar threatened by his angry outburst, due to it turning physical?
Speaking to The New York Post, a ‘highly placed Hollywood source’ said: ‘It’s basically assault. Everyone was just so shocked in the room, it was so uncomfortable.
‘I think Will would not want to give his Oscar back, but who knows what will happen now.’
Although as a non-nominee Smith could have faced being removed by security in the wake of the slap, at that moment in time he was still in the race for best actor against Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington and Javier Bardem.
Smith took to the stage to show his displeasure over Rock’s joke about his wife (Picture: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
As Academy tradition dictates – and as seen by the confusion at the 2017 ceremony over Moonlight’s eventual triumph as best picture, via La La Land – only two accountants from Price Waterhouse Coopers know the winner in any category before it is announced.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as it is formally known, was obviously then placed in a tricky position as to how to move forward, without knowing who would claim one of the night’s top prizes and how things would proceed if the winner was notably absent.
Having told Rock to ‘keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth’ as he sat back down following the incident, Smith then apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees during his acceptance speech, before saying: ‘Love will make you do crazy things’.
The couple was in attendance for Smith’s third time as a best actor nominee (Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
After the ceremony, the Academy issued a statement saying it ‘does not condone violence’.
The industry body sent out a tweet, which read in full: ‘The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
‘Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.’
The Academy has since announced that it has launched a formal investigation into the incident, while stating it ‘condemns the actions of Mr Smith’.
In 2017, it rolled out a new code of conduct in the wake of the #MeToo scandal that rocked the industry, which emphasised ‘upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity’.
In a letter sent to members at the time, and reported by Variety, CEO Dawn Hudson penned: ‘Academy membership is a privilege offered to only a select few within the global community of filmmakers.
The winner was in a good mood at an after-party, where he reportedly danced to his own hit song (Picture: Getty)
‘In addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion picture arts and sciences, members must also behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity. The Academy asks that members embrace their responsibility to affirm these principles and act when these principles are violated.’
She added: ‘There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality. The Board of Governors believes that these standards are essential to the Academy’s mission and reflective of our values.’
As he accepted the best actor accolade, Smith broke down in tears, called the real-life Richard Williams ‘a fierce defender of his family’ and said he felt ‘overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world’, as he spoke about ‘being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people’.
He continued: ‘I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award. It’s about being able to shine a light on all the people…’
Bradley Cooper was seen talking with Smith following the slap (Picture: Rob Latour/Rex/Shutterstock)
‘Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams,’ he laughed. ‘But love will make you do crazy things.’
Rock hasn’t pressed charges against Smith, with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) confirming no police report has yet been filed following the altercation.
‘LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards programme,’ an LAPD spokesperson told the PA news agency.
‘The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.
‘If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.’
Rock has opted not to press any formal charges at this time (Picture: Getty)
‘It’s all love. They’re brothers,’ he added.
Smith took to his Instagram following the slap to add a joke to an earlier, weirdly prophetic post about ‘choosing chaos’ as the couple showed off their outfits.
He commented: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!!’
He hails from Philadelphia while wife Jada is from Baltimore.
Metro.co.uk contacted the Academy for comment.