His breaking point. The reason why Will Smith “exploded” at the 2022 Oscars after Chris Rock made a G.I. Jane joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith was because “he felt that he had no choice but to defend her,” a source exclusively tells In Touch.

“Once he saw Jada’s reaction, the hurt and her rolling her eyes, he flipped,” the insider adds. “All the built up anger Will has had over the jokes about his open marriage, even host Regina Hall’s earlier joke aimed at Jada giving him a pass, it all took its toll. Chris’ jab sent him over the edge.”

It’s no secret that Chris’ G.I. Jane joke didn’t go over well with Will, 53. The comedian referred to Jada playing G.I. Jane in a sequel to the 1997 film, seemingly addressing her bald head — which she revealed in 2018 was the result of an alopecia diagnosis. When the camera cut to Will, he was laughing – but when it panned to Jada, she clearly didn’t think it was funny. That’s when the King Richard star got up from his seat, stormed the stage and slapped Chris, 57, across the face. After the altercation, Will sat down and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth.”

Jada’s hair loss wasn’t the only target of the night. Hosting the Oscars alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Skyes, the Girls Trip star did a bit about calling a handful of people who needed another COVID-19 test on to the stage. Regina, 51, picked out all single men after noting she herself was single earlier that evening. She then called up Will, saying, “You’re married — but you know what? You’re on the list, and looks like Jada approved you, so you get on up here!”

Will Smith Defends Jada Pinkett Smith
Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock

The audience laughed, while the Aladdin actor and Gotham actress joined good-naturedly, clapping along as Will shook his head no and Jada nodded humorously. The couple’s marriage has been highly scrutinized since Jada’s “entanglement” reveal with August Alsina in July 2020, but was heightened even more when Will confirmed in a September 2021 interview with GQ that they had an open marriage.

“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way,” he said. “And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody … But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

After his physical altercation with the Everybody Hates Chris star, the Pursuit of Happiness actor later apologized to the Academy for his actions during his speech for winning the Best Actor role as Richard Williams in King Richard. He talked about being a “protector” of his family, noting that tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams’ father “was a fierce defender of his family.” He went on to say that in the acting business, people have to be okay with others “disrespecting” them and having people talk about one another.

“His instincts, however, wrong, was to protect her honor,” the source concludes. “He’s endured years of rumors of affairs and marital discord — it clearly got the best of him.”

Reps for Will Smith did not immediately respond to In Touch‘s request for comment.

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