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The Academy Says It Asked Will Smith To Leave The Oscars, Has Initiated Disciplinary Proceedings

Will Smith glaring at Chris Rock at 94th Academy Awards
(Image credit: ABC)

Update: New reports are alleging the Academy's statement about asking Will Smith "to leave" the ceremony may not have actually happened. More background, below.

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards over a joke the latter made about Jada Pinkett Smith remains the talk of the town. Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for what happened during his speech when accepting the Academy Award for Best Actor for his King Richard performance, and he formally apologized to Rock the day after on social media. Nevertheless, the Academy decided to launch a formal review into the incident, and we’ve now learned that not only was Smith asked to leave after it unfolded, the organization’s members have now initiated disciplinary proceedings against the actor.

Starting off, at the end of an official statement shared to THR and other outlets, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that the scuffle between Will Smith and Chris Rock “unfolded in a way” they could not have “anticipated.” The Academy then clarified that Smith was asked to leave the Oscars ceremony soon after, but he refused. In hindsight, the group’s members recognize that they “could have handled the situation differently.”

As far as current affairs go, the Academy’s Board of Governors stated that Will Smith committed of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.” Smith has been provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote over his “violations and sanctions,” and during that time he can give his side of the story through a written response. Then at the Board’s next meeting on April 18, the Academy might take disciplinary action against the Men in Black actor, which could include include “suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

So the Academy is taking things to the next level with its actions towards Will Smith. To provide some context in case you’ve made it this far and don’t know the whole story, Rock, who was presenting the Best Documentary Feature category, joked about Jada Pinkett Smith being in G.I. Jane 2, referring to her bald look, which is a result of alopecia. Moments later, Smith walked on stage and struck him in the face. Upon returning to his seat, Smith shouted “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth” twice, and Rock continued with the presentation.

Chris Rock declined to press charges against Will Smith after the 94th Academy Awards concluded, but clearly the actor could still face consequences for his actions from the Academy itself. There’s certainly no shortage of celebrities who’ve expressed disapproval of what Smith did, including Jim Carrey being “sickened” by the later standing ovation, as well as Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes wishing Smith had been asked to leave the building. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, while congratulating Smith for his Academy Award win, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Janet Hubert said that meeting Rock once was enough for her.

Keep your eyes peeled on CinemaBlend for more news about Will Smith and how the Academy decides to proceed with him. You can read the entirety of the organization’s latest statement on the Smith incident 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.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.