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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 94th Academy Awards that steadily maintained a buoyant spirit was rocked by an unbelievable exchange after Will Smith took offense to a joke made by Chris Rock about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

After Rock joked to Smith that he was looking forward to a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” Smith stood up from his seat near the stage, strode up to Rock and slapped him. After sitting back down, Smith shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.” When Rock, who joked about Jada Pinkett Smith while hosting the Oscars in 2016, protested that it was just a “GI Jane” joke, Smith repeated the same line.

“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Rock said, before awkwardly returning to presenting best documentary, which went to Questlove’s “Summer of Soul (…or When the Revolution Was Not Televised).”

The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home. At the commercial break, presenter Daniel Kaluuya came up to to hug Smith, and Denzel Washington escorted him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged and Tyler Perry came over to talk as well.

Smith went on to win his first Oscar later in the ceremony, as many expected, beating out fellow nominees Javier Bardem, Andrew Garfield, Benedict Cumberbatch and Washington, who trumped Smith for the 2002 best actor Oscar with his win for “Training Day.”

Will Smith accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for “King Richard” at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Smith’s acceptance speech vacillated between defense and apology.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said in his first remarks. He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.”

Smith shared what Washington told him: “At your highest moment, be careful because that’s when the devil comes for you.”

Ultimately, Smith apologized to the academy and to his fellow nominees.

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father” said Smith. “But love will make you do crazy things.”