Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best docum ...

Will Smith-Chris Rock incident ‘complicated,’ Antonio Fargas says

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Antonio Fargas’ first comment was, “This was our ‘streaker’ moment. Remember that, with David Niven?”

OK, to delve into Oscar history after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast, Niven was onstage to introduce Elizabeth Taylor during the 1974 Oscar show. A streaker ran across the stage, behind Niven at the podium, prompting the movie star to famously say, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen. … But isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”

Funny. But Sunday’s event was more, as Fargas said, “Complicated. This was a complicated and confusing thing that happened.”

Rock had just made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”

Rock referred to the 1997 action movie starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head for the role. Pinkett Smith suffers from the condition alopecia, which causes hair loss. After the joke, Smith strode onstage and cracked Rock with a sweeping right hand.

Fargas, who watched the show from his Las Vegas home, knows the acting culture. “But I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says.

Fargas is a highly respected stage, film and TV actor. He is best known for creating the iconic role of street informant Huggy Bear in the 1970s network crime drama “Starsky & Hutch.” Fargas also played the cross-dressing character Lindy in the 1976 feature film “Car Wash.” That controversial portrayal was cut from the film when it aired on network TV.

And Fargas knows Smith and Rock, too. He was cast on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” as a dance instructor, training Philip (James Avery) and Vivian (Daphne Maxwell Reid) for an appearance on “Soul Train.” Fargas also has played the recurring role of grocery store owner Doc Harris on Rock’s autobiographical comedy series.

“Will gave me the job because of my history,” Fargas says, “and Chris also gave me the job because of my history.”

Fargas watched the episode unfold, as shocked as anyone, saying, “I think there was something deeper going on than just that joke onstage.”

The acting community is filled with all types of personalities and egos. But Fargas says, “I think of it as a small family, and there are very sensitive people. There’s a lot that we don’t know about each other. It is unfortunate that it took away from a high point for Will. It was the low point, and the high point, in the same moment.”

Smith won the best actor Oscar for his role as Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.” Minutes after hitting Rock, a tearful Smith said from the stage that, “Love will make you do crazy things.”

“He’s talking about protecting people and showing love, but how is this showing love?” Fargas says. “He apologized to everyone but Chris Rock.”

The audience at Nokia Theater gave Smith a standing ovation for his Oscar triumph. Fargas says he deserved that response.

“I think, at that moment, it was difficult for the audience to decipher what had happened,” Fargas says. “But he turned in a wonderful performance as Richard Williams, so yes, he did deserve to be honored for that.”

Smith said during his acceptance speech, “I hope the Academy invites me back.” Fargas says he’ll be back.

“He’ll be back, with another Oscar-worthy performance,” the actor says. “He’s standing on that speech, and he’s got his Oscar, he’s part of the family, and Chris Rock is going to be fine, too.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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