While initially appearing to be smiling about the "G.I. Jane 2" jest directed at Pinkett Smith – who has been outspoken about dealing with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss – Smith, 53, made a beeline for an unsuspecting Rock while the funnyman was still delivering a monologue before presenting an award and open-hand smacked the "Everybody Hates Chris" creator on the left side of his face.
"Oh wow," said a perplexed Rock. "Wow – Will Smith just smacked the s--- out of me."
ABC was quick to censor a profanity-laden spat between the Hollywood heavyweights after Smith returned to his assigned seat but in an uncensored video clip, at-home viewers are able to hear exactly what many had read from the lips of Smith.
"Keep my wife’s name out of your f–--ing mouth," Smith is heard mouthing in the uncensored clip.
"Wow, dude, it was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke," Rock replied to Smith.
Rock had previously mentioned during his monologue that the joke wasn’t as bad as others made at the Smith family’s expense, however, Smith clearly didn’t see it as such and loudly doubled down in his message to Rock to "Yeah, keep my wife’s name out your f---ing mouth."
While seemingly frazzled in the moment, Rock, 57, composed himself and quipped, "That was, uh, the greatest night in the history of television" – and proceeded to present the Academy Award for best documentary.
After the show Sunday night, the academy posted a statement condemning violence. The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it was aware of a slapping incident at the Oscars but said the person involved had declined to file a police report.
On Monday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said it is launching a formal review into the altercation.
A spokesperson for the film academy told Variety: "The Academy 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."
Some academy members, like writer-producer Marshall Herskovitz, called for the academy to take disciplinary action against Smith.
"He disgraced our entire community tonight," wrote Herskovitz on Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.