Best Actor nominee Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face with his open hand and shouted a v****r remark at him for making a joke about his wife’s appearance at Sunday’s Oscars.

At first, the episode with Rock seemed to be a joke, but then it became serious when Smith shouted, “Get my wife’s name out of your d**n mouth.”

The audio of the show, which aired in the United States with a few seconds delay, appeared to have been edited out of the live broadcast for many viewers because of the language.

Rock made fun of some of the nominees and, after mentioning Smith, said of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane II, can’t wait to see him.”

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Moments later, Smith walked up to Rock on stage, who was holding his hands behind his back when Smith slapped him in the face with an open hand that caused an audible thump.

“Oh, wow! Wow! Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me,” Rock said as the audience laughed, thinking it was a skit. “Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” referencing the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actor Demi Moore shaved her head.

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Smith then made what may become one of the most repeated phrases of Oscar history when he said, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*****g mouth.”

Rock responded, “I’m going to. That’s the greatest night in the history of television.”

Smith then repeated his phrase, louder and more deliberately.

In December, Jada Pinkett Smith told Billboard she has been battling the autoimmune disorder alopecia, which can cause hair loss and balding.

The audience initially thought Smith’s indignation was feigned, part of the act. It was only after he returned to his seat and shouted that the audience went silent and audibly gasped. Many people in the mezzanine stood up and craned their heads to try to catch a glimpse.

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Smith won the Oscar for playing Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Smith apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees but not to Rock upon accepting his award.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said. The last thing he said before he took his seat was: “I hope the Academy invites me back.”