Before the Oscars 2022 slap, which will probably leave a stain on Will Smith's otherwise unblemished reputation, there were a couple of close-to-the-bone jokes directed at the actor and his family courtesy of Chris Rock.
But soon after the incident, a joke that Rock told from the same stage six years ago as host of the 88th Academy Awards, also at the expense of Pinkett Smith, began to be wildly shared.
In 2016, a number of major Hollywood stars, including Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, boycotted the awards in protest against the lack of diversity among nominees. Will Smith, who was widely praised for his role in the 2015 sports biographical Concussion, was also not nominated.
Addressing the boycott in his monologue, Rock mocked Pinkett Smith, saying "Isn't she on a TV show?", questioning her relevance on a night that celebrated films.
"Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited," Rock said.
The comedian also took a jab at her husband missing out on a nomination.
"Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it, I get it. Tell you the truth, I get it. You get mad. Said it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West, okay?," he said, referring to Smith's 1999 steampunk Western that was derided by critics.
Reacting to the joke days later, Pinkett Smith said "it comes with the territory".
"We gotta keep it moving," she said at a red carpet event. "We got a lot of stuff we gotta handle, a lot of stuff going on in our world right now. We gotta keep it moving."
Following Sunday's slapping incident, fans of Will Smith have also pointed to a 2018 Instagram post of the actor, which elicited a comment by Rock, again directed at Pinkett Smith.
In the post, Smith wished his ex wife Sheree Zampino, with whom he shares a son, Trey, a happy birthday, saying; "I Love You, Ree-Ree" and using the hashtag #BestBabyMamaEver. Zampino, who divorced Will in 1995, continues to share a cordial relationship with the actor as well as with Pinkett Smith.
"Wow. You have a very understanding wife," Rock reportedly commented on the post, which has since been deleted, according to eonline.com.
While the true extent of their relationship is not known, Smith and Rock have known each other for decades. In 1995, Rock appeared in a few episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the show that turned Smith into a star. Rock doubled up as a popular actor named Maurice Perry and his sister Jasmine in a guest appearance on the show.
The pair also appeared in the 1999 mockumentary Torrance Rises, which featured a number of stars playing themselves, including Madonna, Sofia Coppola and Fatboy Slim.
Rock has also featured in the same film as Pinkett Smith, with both actors lending their voices to the hit animated film Madagascar in 2005, as well as its two sequels — Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008 and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted in 2012.
On Monday, following reports that the Academy was reviewing the slapping incident, Smith, who did not apologise to Rock when he won the Best Actor Oscar for King Richard moments later, posted a message on Instagram.
"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable," he said. "Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong," the actor continued.
He signed off the post, saying "I am a work in progress".
The Los Angeles Police Department on Sunday told Variety that Rock had "declined to file a police report".
"If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report," they said.
Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of all the winners at the Oscars 2022: