Will Smith resigns from Oscars Academy and admits the 'list of those I have hurt is long'

1 April 2022, 06:16 | Updated: 2 April 2022, 00:57

Will Smith has resigned from the Academy
Will Smith has resigned from the Academy. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Will Smith has announced his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the fallout from his slap on Chris Rock.

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He struck the comedian after the latter made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair loss.

It threw a night when he took the Best Actor award into turmoil and has led to him apologising to Chris Rock and the Academy, which organises the Oscars, before issuing his latest statement.

The Academy said it would accept his resignation.

Mr Smith said: "I have directly responded to the Academy's disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.

"The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.

"I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.

"I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.

"So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate."

The Academy said it accepted Will Smith's "immediate resignation" and will "continue to move forward" with disciplinary proceedings against him.

It comes after the ceremony's producer said LA police were ready to arrest Will Smith at the Oscars and told Chris Rock "we will get him" after the actor slapped the comedian onstage.

In a preview clip for an interview with Good Morning America, Will Packer, who produced the 94th annual ceremony, claims the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was ready to arrest Smith until Rock declined to press charges.

"They were saying, you know, this is battery, was a word they used in that moment," Packer said.

"They said: 'We will go get him, we are prepared, we're prepared to get him right now'."

Read more: New angle of Will Smith Oscars slap shows Jada Pinkett-Smith's reaction during incident

Read more: Chris Rock breaks silence on Will Smith slap at first show since Oscars spat

The American film producer claimed Rock dismissed police and ultimately, declined to press charges.

"They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options.

"He was like, 'No, I'm fine.' He was like, 'No, no, no,'" the producer said.

LAPD said on Sunday "if the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report".

It comes following reports from Hollywood trade outlet Variety that Smith met with leaders of the Academy on Tuesday to discuss his outburst, and apologised to chief executive Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin.

Oscars organisers have begun "disciplinary proceedings" against Smith, who they said was asked to leave, but refused to exit the venue.

Read more: Will Smith gets jiggy with it at Oscars party hours after slapping Chris Rock

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a new statement that his actions were "a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television" and apologised to comedian Chris Rock.

"Mr Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologise 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 recognise we could have handled the situation differently."

Smith went on to win Best Actor at the awards, where he was given a standing ovation for an emotional speech. In the speech, he proceeded to apologise for the incident, saying "love makes you do crazy things".

Read more: 'I was out of line': Will Smith apologises to Chris Rock for 'embarrassing' Oscars slap

The King Richard actor also issued a public apology on his Instagram account, where he called his actions "inexcusable and unacceptable."

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behaviour at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable," Smith wrote.

"Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical conditions was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."

Read more: Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after slapping Chris Rock, organisers say

Chris Rock addressed the slap in a recent comedy show where he was given a standing ovation as he walked onstage.

The comedian told fans he was "still processing" the altercation but said he will talk about it "at some point".

Smith marched onstage at the awards ceremony slapping the 57-year-old across the face for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith's hair.

The 53-year-old returned to his seat in the Dolby Theatre after slapping Rock, shouting twice to the stage: "Keep my wife's name out of your f****** mouth."

Rock had joked about Pinkett Smith's buzzcut, saying on stage: "Jada, can't wait for GI Jane 2."

She suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss.

The incident has caused uproar amongst Hollywood stars, with many of Smith's peers condemning the assault.