Will Smith refused to leave the Oscars when asked, the Academy has said.
At the 94th Academy Awards, Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith and G.I. Jane. The protagonist of that movie has a shaved head, and Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia. Smith then returned to his seat and shouted “keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth” twice.
The Academy’s latest statement on the incident, which follows a meeting of the Board of Governors, reveals Smith stayed at the ceremony despite being asked to leave, and also says the actor potentially faces disciplinary action.
The statement from the Academy, per Variety (opens in new tab), reads: “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.
The Academy has given Smith 15 days to respond. “Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the statement continues. “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.”
The Academy launched an official review into the incident following the ceremony, and, before that, issued a statement against violence that did not mention Smith by name. Previous reports indicated that removing Smith from the Oscars was “seriously” considered – but the actor remained at the ceremony. Another report revealed the backstage reaction to the moment. Rock has declined to press charges.
Smith initially addressed the altercation in his Best Actor acceptance speech without mentioning Rock, saying: “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.” He has since apologized directly to Rock online.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” a statement posted to Smith’s social media reads. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”