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

31 March 2022, 00:03

Will Smith was told to leave but refused, the Academy said
Will Smith was told to leave but refused, the Academy said. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Oscars organisers have begun "disciplinary proceedings" against Will Smith over his slapping of Chris Rock, as it said he refused to leave when asked.

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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 Rock.

Smith had taken to the stage to hit Rock after he made a hair loss joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith, the wife of the King Richard star, who has alopecia.

It shocked viewers and threw the prestigious Los Angeles film awards ceremony into turmoil. Smith returned to his seat at the ceremony as he told Rock to take Pinkett-Smith's name "out of your f****** mouth".

In a statement, the Academy said: “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 behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

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

Read more: Will Smith boasted of causing 'chaos' before Oscars as calls grow for him to lose award

Will Smith appears to hit Chris Rock on Oscars stage after gag about wife Jada

"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 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 apologised to the Academy as he picked up an award for Best Actor over his performance in King Richard, a film about the father of Venus and Serena Williams.

He was later photographed partying, and then apologised to Rock on Instagram, but it did little to quell criticism and calls for him to lose his award.

"Violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive," Smith said.

"My behaviour at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."

He added that he was "out of line".

Rock did not file a complaint with police after the ceremony.

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