The Oscars was sent into chaos on Sunday night as actor Will Smith broke character and smacked host Chris Rock during the live broadcast.
Smith strode onto the stage and slapped Rock hard across the face after a seemingly innocuous joke at the expense of Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
With the camera showing Smith laughing along with Rock just seconds before, the audience laughed and clapped at what they first assumed was part of the joke.
But things went very quiet when Smith started shouting profanities at Rock when seated again.
Rock managed to regain his composure and carried on with the show, while Smith returned to the stage shortly after to collect the Oscar for Best Actor.
During an emotional and somewhat rambling acceptance speech Smith gave a quasi apology to the Academy for his bizarre outburst but failed to mention Rock.
“I want to apologize to [the] Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said.
“This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award; it’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine light on all of the people [in the cast and crew] … Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.
“I hope the academy invites me back.”
No charges have been laid but Oscars producer Will Packer tweeted after the show; “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring. #Oscars.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that organisers the Oscars, said it “condemns the actions of Mr Smith at last night’s show”.
“We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law,” the academy stated.