The Truth About Chris Rock And Will Smith's Tense Relationship

The Academy Awards show this year did not go as smoothly as planned — or did it? In a particularly tense moment, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, and viewers aren't sure if it was a weird comedic bit or an actual assault. 

Rock, who was announcing the winner for Best Original Documentary, made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, being in a "G.I. Jane" sequel because of her cropped hair.

However, Smith, who was sitting just steps from the stage, did not take kindly to the joke because his wife has alopecia, an autoimmune disease that leads to hair loss (via The New York Times). He wordlessly walked up onto the stage and slapped Rock right in the face. "Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me," Rock said after Smith went back to his seat. 

"Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth," Smith could be seen mouthing, as the audio was muted during this heated exchange (via Rolling Stone). 

Was this a scripted moment or was there a tense relationship between Rock and Smith before this?

It wasn't the first time Chris Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith

After the intense altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock, Smith's publicist Meredith O. Sullivan approached him during the commercial break to discuss what had just happened, which makes us think this wasn't a scripted bit (via Variety). 

Diddy, who was the next presenter, addressed the situation by saying, "Will and Chris, we're going to solve this like family. Right now we're moving on with love. Everybody make some noise."

It turns out this wasn't the first time Rock said something about Smith's wife. In 2016, he hosted the ceremony and joked about Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting it that year because of the lack of diversity.

"Jada says she's not coming. Protesting. I'm like, 'Ain't she on a TV show?' ... Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited! Oh, that's not an invitation I would turn down," he said (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

In 2018, Rock had also commented on Smith's birthday tribute to his ex-wife, Sheree Zampino, saying (via E! Online), "Wow...You have a very understanding wife." History seems to have repeated itself, but maybe it's time for Rock to take a lesson and avoid speaking of Smith's wife.

Will Smith apologized somewhat during his acceptance speech

Later in the evening, Will Smith ended up taking home the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role award for his part in "King Richard." It was his first Oscar win, although he had been nominated twice before in the same category. What should have been a joyous night for Smith felt a little sour after the Chris Rock incident. 

The actor even used his acceptance speech to apologize somewhat for his actions, according to Variety. "I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," Smith said. 

While crying, Smith later joked, "I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams." The Oscar winner also noted that "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," and some would believe that's what he had done earlier in the show, defending his wife. 

Smith also shared that Denzel Washington, who was seen talking to the actor after the incident, told him, "At your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you." 

Some viewers, like "The Princess Bride" actor Cary Elwes, were not happy about Smith's outburst. "The 'vessels of love' I have known or admired never acted violently against another human being," he said.

However, it seems Smith regretted the altercation –- even though he didn't apologize to Rock directly or mention him by name in his speech. Even Rock joked about it onstage, saying, "That was the greatest night in the history of television," before moving on (via The New York Times).

Was Will Smith overcompensating due to his rumored marital issues?

Although plenty of people felt like Will Smith crossed the line by slapping Chris Rock, fellow actor Tiffany Haddish credited the "King Richard" star for defending his wife's honor. 

People reports that, at the Governors Ball event held after the Oscars, Haddish said, "When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me." The actor shared the screen with Jada Pinkett Smith in the hit comedy "Girls Trip," and she reckoned Smith did right by her. 

Referencing her own negative experiences, Haddish shared, "Maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives." 

She also pointed out that, although Rock is friends with the Smiths, they clearly didn't know he was going to make the joke, and Pinkett Smith was "hurt" by it regardless.

The actor could also be seen to be overcompensating, however, since Smith and Pinkett Smith have dodged numerous allegations about deep-seated issues in their marriage, per Us Weekly. From accusations of infidelity to rumors they have an open arrangement, the couple has fought hard to present a united front amid ongoing drama in the media.

Smith's outburst could be the latest attempt to prove they're committed to each other.