And the Internet was soon awash with memes and reaction to one of the most shocking moments in Oscar history.
Twitter responded by admitting they had had no interest in the annual Hollywood awards ceremony up until now but the slap had taken over their timeline in spectacular style.
Get ready for the memes: Will Smith was the talking point of Sunday night’s 94th Academy Awards when he slapped presenter Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife
That got everyone’s attention: The Internet was soon awash with memes and reaction to one of the most shocking moments on Oscar history
‘Me no caring about the Oscars but suddenly seeing that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock’ read one meme of someone scrolling on their phone before reacting in shock.
Others shared screengrabs from Smith’s famous movies like Men In Black, joking the actor would want to use the movie’s famous memory eraser device, the Neuralyzer, to forget what happened.
Nicole Kidman meanwhile inadvertently become a meme after a photo of the actress looking shocked at the awards show soon went viral on Twitter, with fans commenting her reaction was universal.
While the photos of Nicole were actually taken earlier on during the awards show, that didn’t stop fans from turning the Best Actress nominee into a meme.
Memory wiper: Others shared screengrabs from Smith’s famous movies like Men In Black, joking the actor would want to use the movie’s famous memory eraser device, the Neuralyzer, to forget what happened
Erased: Some memes showed Chris Rock disappearing as if in a video game after the slap
‘Nicole Kidman should win the Oscar for Best Reaction To Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock,’ tweeted one viewer.
‘Nicole Kidman reacting to the Chris Rock and Will Smith incident at the #Oscars. A NEW MEME IS BORN,’ added another.
Wrote one fan: ‘Nicole Kidman and her husband having a front row seat watching Will Smith slap the s**t out of Chris Rock.’
I’m awake! Others joked about how the shocking moment had made them pay attention to the notoriously long-winded awards show
Following the astonishing incident, ‘#whatjusthappened’ started trending on Twitter, with one person commenting: ‘Nicole Kidman was all of us at that moment’.
Will used his acceptance speech for his first Academy Award to defend storming onto the Oscars stage and slapping presenter Chris.
Smith on Sunday won Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the determined father who raised tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, in ‘King Richard.’
But the win was completely overshadowed by the assault, which occurred about 40 minutes before his award was unsealed.
Shock: Some tweeters pointed to the celebs surrounding Will who reacted with laughter
Talking point: The memes certainly livened up the online commentary of the ceremony
Smith was still allowed to make his acceptance speech and, with tears streaming down his face, he appeared to defend hitting Rock because he said he wanted to protect his family.
Rock, a veteran stand-up, upset Smith when he compared his wife’s hair to that of G. I. Jane’s, who has a shaved head. Pinkett Smith suffers from hair loss condition alopecia.
‘Love makes you do crazy things’, the rapper and actor admitted as he accepted his Best Actor Oscar statuette.
He added that being a Hollywood star means you should be able to ‘have people disrespecting you and that ‘you just gotta smile and pretend it’s ok,’ he said.
But he added that he admired Richard Williams who ‘was a fierce defender of his family.’
‘I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,’ he explained.
Shock horror: Nicole Kidman has inadvertently become a meme after Smith slapped Chris Rock
She is all of us: While the photos of Nicole were actually taken earlier on during the awards show, that didn’t stop fans from turning the Best Actress nominee into a meme
Smith went on to issue a tearful partial apology for his emotional outburst, but did not apologize to Rock. ‘I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment,’ he said.
‘Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father,’ said Smith.
Journalists covering the awards ceremony from the press area were instructed not to ask any attendees about Smith slapping Rock, according to BBC correspondent David Sillito.
Late Sunday night, the LAPD issued a statement saying that Rock had not filed a police report against Smith, but that if he chooses to do so, police will investigate.
‘He could have killed him’: Hollywood stars quickly took to Twitter to call out Smith’s shocking attack, with comedian and director Judd Apatow calling the display ‘pure out of control rage’
Not helping: Kathy Griffin wasn’t having any of the rationalizations and defenses for Smith’s conduct, and she worried that his attack would embolden hecklers that regularly interrupt comedy shows
Doesn’t hold up: Rob Reiner wrote that there was ‘no excuse’ for what Smith had done and called the apparent justifications in his acceptance speech ‘bulls***’
No ‘love’:Maria Shriver didn’t mince words in calling out Smith. ‘#WillSmith says he wants to be a vessel for love. Love is not violent. Love is not what was displayed on a global stage tonight,’ she tweeted
Wagging her finger: Mandy Moore seemed to reference the attack with a tweet she reposted to her Instagram Stories, which appeared to urge viewers not to salute the actor’s ‘violence’
‘LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,’ the statement said. ‘The incident involved one individual slapping another.’
It was not immediately clear whether the Academy would penalize Smith in any way for his outburst.
The slapping incident occurred after Rock cracked jokes about the ‘GI Jane’ haircut — referring to the Demi Moor character who famously had a shaved head — of Pinkett Smith.
The shocking scene, broadcast live around the world, stunned both the live audience at the Dolby Theatre and TV viewers.
After Smith strode out on stage and slapped Rock with an open right hand, Rock staggered and exclaimed ‘wow, Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.’
Nothing to see here: The Academy alluded to Smith’s slap without explicitly mentioning it in a statement posted to Twitter
Smith, visibly emotional, walked back to his seat in the audience and shouted: ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.’
The exchange was muted on a delayed telecast in much of the US, but was aired in full to some international audiences.
Hollywood stars quickly took to Twitter to call out Smith’s shocking attack, with comedian and director Judd Apatow calling the display ‘pure out of control rage and violence’ and claiming that Smith ‘could have killed’ Rock.
‘Seems like Will Smith’s plan to get comedian and the world to not make jokes about him is not going to pan out. The Williams family must be furious. Pure narcissism,’ he wrote.
‘Also — GI Jane was gorgeous. What exactly is insulting about being compared to a ripped, stunning Demi?’ he wrote, referencing the Ridley Scott–directed Demi Moore–starring film.
Off the rails: Rock, 57, appeared to have set off Smith — who was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard — by joking that the Matrix Resurrections actress was preparing to star in a sequel to G.I. Jane, a reference to her bald head
Apatow strongly rejected a Twitter user who said they ‘understood’ why Smith hit Rock because of Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.
‘He could have killed him. That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind,’ he wrote.
Rock, 57, appeared to have set off Smith — who is nominated for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard — by joking that the Matrix Resurrections actress was preparing to star in a sequel to G.I. Jane, a reference to her bald head.
‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,’ Smith shouted from the audience after returning to his seat near the stage.
Kathy Griffin agreed with Apatow and called out Smith.
Calm before the storm: Will and Jada joined together for some playful posts before the ceremony, but they seemed to capture the actor’s mood even before his brutal outburst
She wasn’t having any of the rationalizations and defenses for his conduct, and she worried that his attack would embolden hecklers that regularly interrupt comedy shows.
‘Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian.
Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.’
Rob Reiner wrote that there was ‘no excuse’ for what Smith did and called the apparent justifications in his acceptance speech ‘bulls***.’
‘Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bulls***.’
OSCARS 2022 WINNERS: AT A GLANCE
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Will Smith, King Richard
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Best Original Song
No Time to Die from No Time to Die
Best Documentary Feature
Summer of Soul
Best Adapted Screenplay
CODA Sian Heder
Best Original Screenplay
Belfast, Kenneth Branagh
Best Costume Design
Best International Feature Film
Drive My Car
Best Supporting Actor
Troy Kotsur, CODA
Best Animated Feature
Best Visual Effects
Best Supporting Actress
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Best Production Design
Best Original Score
Best Live Action Short
The Long Goodbye
Best Animated Short
The Windshield Wiper
Best Documentary Short Subject
The Queen of Basketball