After the 57-year-old Saturday Night Live alum made a crack about Jada Pinkett Smith starring in a possible sequel of 1997’s G.I. Jane because of her shaved head, the 53-year-old King Richard actor put Rock in his place, seemingly slapping Rock’s face. When the Oscar nominee returned to his seat, he shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
Live audio was cut from the broadcast during the heated moment as viewers debated online whether it was a scripted bit or an actual argument. When Diddy, 52, walked out to introduce the tribute for the 50th anniversary of The Godfather trilogy, he tried to diffuse the tension.
“I just want to say, let’s make some noise for Amy [Schumer], Regina [Hall], Wanda [Sykes]!” the rapper said of the cohosts. “Gotta give it up for Wanda. I did not know that this year was going to be the most exciting Oscars ever.”
The audience laughed as Diddy continued, “OK, Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family at the Gold Party, OK? But right now we are moving on with love. Everybody make some noise!”
The Sean Jean designer was seemingly referring to the Oscars afterparty hosted by Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the latter of whom opened Sunday’s awards show with a live performance of her song from King Richard, “Be Alive.”
Moments after the apparent fight, Smith won the Oscar for best actor for his titular role in the biopic based on Richard Williams, the father of tennis pros Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The Gemini Man star was overcome with emotion as he accepted his trophy with tears streaming down his face.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum said on stage while reflecting on the responsibility of “protecting” the Williams family’s story and the Black actresses who starred alongside him, including Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton. “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. … I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern.”
The Philadelphia native went on to discuss the struggle in Hollywood to “be able to take abuse” and “have people talk crazy about you” before he issued an apology to his fellow nominees and to the Academy for his tearful speech.
“Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you,'” Smith continued. “It’s like, I want to be a vessel for love. … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things. … Thank you, I’m hoping the Academy invites me back.”
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