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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday began “disciplinary proceedings” against Will Smith for his behavior at the Oscars, and revealed that Smith was asked to leave the show but refused to do so after slapping Chris Rock onstage during the ceremony.
The actor’s actions were in violation of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, “including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” according to a statement released after a board of governors meeting. Smith could face suspension, expulsion or other sanctions if the board chooses to take action at the next scheduled meeting April 18, the statement said.
Additionally, Smith will receive 15 days’ notice of a vote as well as an opportunity to be heard by written response beforehand.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
The statement didn’t provide details about who asked Smith to leave; The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to him for comment. The Academy also apologized directly to Rock in the statement, as well as to nominees, guests and viewers.
Rock was presenting best documentary feature at the 2022 Oscars on Sunday when he made a G.I. Jane joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head (the actress has alopecia). After Smith walked up to the stage to slap Rock, Smith returned to his seat and shouted at the presenter to keep his wife’s name out of his “fucking mouth.” Smith later went on to win the best actor award for his performance in King Richard. While receiving his first-ever Oscar, he apologized to the Academy and fellow nominees; he did not, however, mention Rock.
The officers of the organization’s board of governors had an emergency meeting a day later, and the full board met Wednesday to discuss the incident.
One member of the board attending Wednesday’s meeting said there was broad support for Smith to be suspended or expelled from the Academy. “I think everyone unanimously feels what he did was out of control,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“People want real consequence. Every member of every branch is reaching out to all their governors,” said the source. “It was an assault — and not only a physical assault, but an assault on the community.”
The source added that images of Smith and his family celebrating and dancing at the post-Oscar Vanity Fair party as if nothing had happened was an additional insult.
THR awards columnist Scott Feinberg has spoken to numerous Academy members since the show Sunday who said the organization should at the very least suspend Smith’s membership, citing the group’s Standards of Conduct implemented eight weeks after Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misdeeds were exposed. And almost none said Smith should return to the Oscars show next year to carry out the ceremonial tradition whereby the previous year’s best actor presents the best actress award.
Following many condemnations, including from the Academy, Smith took to Instagram on Monday to apologize to Rock. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.”
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to THR that Rock declined to press charges.
See the Academy’s full statement below.
The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.
Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.
Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.
Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.
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