WILL Smith has won support in an unexpected place after storming the stage at this year’s Oscars to hit comedian Chris Rock, who made a joke about the actor’s wife.

Tory MP Simon Hoare announced he would have “lamped” Rock if he had made a similar remark about his wife.

Smith appeared to take offence at a gag about wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s haircut before taking to the stage and striking him in front of the star-studded audience at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Red Table Talk host Pinkett Smith has previously spoken about her struggles with alopecia and said it is what prompted her to shave her head.

Amid online outrage over the incident, Hoare tweeted: “Re Will Smith incident [at the Oscars]. I’d just hope if someone thought it in good taste to make a joke at the expense of a medical condition of my wife then I’d get up and lamp him.”

He added: “The *joke* was tasteless.”

After being named best actor for his performance as the father of Williams and her sister Venus in King Richard, Smith used his acceptance speech to apologise to the Academy and “all my fellow nominees” – but not Rock.

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” he added.

UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi also defended the actor, suggesting he set a good example by quickly apologising. 

Zahawi told BBC Breakfast his "heart broke" when he saw Smith make his "tearful apology" for the incident.

“He apologised immediately. It was hard for him because someone had made a joke about his wife and her illness," the Tory minister said.

"That’s not easy but he regretted it and apologised immediately. It is heart-breaking when you lose control of your emotions in that way but I think it’s important not to allow yourself to cross that line."

Zahawi said Smith's apology was "good to see".

Asked how he would explain the incident to children if he were a teacher, the education secretary said: "I would say, don't do it", but added that some jokes were "below the belt".

Zahawi went on to praise Smith, "a very talented man", for winning his first Oscar for King Richard, where he plays the father of tennis greats, Serena and Venus Williams.

Shortly after the incident, Serena Williams shared a video on her Instagram story showing her looking shocked.

In a second clip, the sportswoman admitted she “had to put her drink down”.

Jaden Smith, 23, tweeted: “And That’s How We Do It” after his father’s on-stage altercation.

He later told his followers that his father’s acceptance speech had made him cry.

Rapper 50 Cent shared a photo of the moment on Instagram and wrote: “B!tch don’t you ever play with me. LOL.”

American late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien was among those making light of the situation, writing on Twitter: “Just saw the Will Smith slap.

“Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”

However, Smith’s actions also attracted criticism from members of the film industry.

The Last Samurai producer Marshall Herskovitz urged the Academy to do more than simply issue a statement in response to the incident.

He said on Twitter: “I call upon the Academy, of which I am a member, to take disciplinary action against Will Smith.

“He disgraced our entire community tonight.”

Hollywood star Mia Farrow tweeted: “It was just a joke. Jokes are what Chris Rock does.

“Always has been edgy. This was a mild joke for him. And I love GI Jane.”

Referring to words from Smith’s acceptance speech, English actor Cary Elwes said: “The ‘vessels of love’ I have known or admired never acted violently against another human being…”

One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush commented that “violence isn’t OK”.

She added: “Assault is never the answer. Also? This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the #Oscar stage, & tonight he went after her alopecia.

“Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin suggested Smith’s actions set a bad precedent for her profession.

She said on Twitter: “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian.

“Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”