Will Smith Refused to Leave Oscars Ceremony after Slap
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Wednesday that Will Smith had been asked to leave the Oscars ceremony after slapping Chris Rock onstage on Sunday night, but that he refused.
“Things transpired in a way we could not have predicted,” the school said in a statement announcing that Mr. Smith would face disciplinary action. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was requested to leave the event and refused, we equally understand that the matter may have been handled differently.”
Mr. Rock used a sold-out comedy gig in Boston shortly after the disclosure to make his first public comments about the event since Mr. Smith smacked him during the Academy Awards’ live global broadcast.
“How was your weekend?” I inquire. Mr. Rock posed the question to the audience at the Wilbur Theater in Boston’s theater area.
Mr. Rock briefly addressed the issue of discussion, saying, “I’m still kind of processing what happened.” He promised to go over it more thoroughly later. “It’ll be serious, it’ll be humorous, but I’d love to deliver some jokes,” she says.
Since the event on Sunday, a slew of Hollywood stars, both connected and unrelated to the awards show, have chimed in on the situation. Mr. Rock, who is 57 years old, was not one of them. Until his presentation on Wednesday evening, the legendary stand-up and actor-director remained silent about the event.
Mr. Rock was greeted with a standing ovation upon his arrival, and after audience members took their seats, they rose to their feet again, causing the comedian to try to settle them down so he could begin.
“Allow me to put on a show for you,” he said. “You’ve made me teary-eyed.”
He addressed the elephant in the room, admitting that he didn’t know much about what had happened. “So if you came to hear that,” he explained, “I had like a complete show written before this weekend.”
Mr. Rock’s grace under pressure that night was one of the few things that received acclaim in the aftermath of an embarrassing incident: he stayed onstage after being struck, joked to the astonished crowd that “that was the greatest night in the history of television,” and continued with the performance.
The person involved in the altercation — likely Mr. Rock — “declined to make a police report,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Following a meeting of the academy’s board of governors on Wednesday to review the event, the academy announced that Mr. Smith, 53, had been asked to depart. The organization did not indicate who made the request; earlier this week, two industry insiders with knowledge of the subject claimed that serious discussions about removing Mr. Smith from the theater had taken place, but that he had not been asked to leave.
Mr. Smith has been charged with “violations of the school’s norms of conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and undermining the academy’s integrity,” according to the academy. Mr. Smith would be given an opportunity to respond, and the board “may take appropriate disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other punishment” at its next meeting on April 18.
The academy said in a statement that “Mr. Smith’s acts at the 94th Academy Awards were a truly upsetting, terrible event to watch in person and on television.” “We apologize for what happened on our stage, Mr. Rock, and we appreciate your fortitude in the face of adversity.”
Two attendees described the two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the board of governors on Wednesday as “emotional,” as the governors relayed the views of their constituents from various segments of the film business. According to those present, the sentiment in the room was that it was their responsibility “to not normalize violence,” according to two governors who requested anonymity to discuss a private discussion.
Mr. Smith reacted to a joke about his wife’s chopped hair made by Mr. Rock by exiting his seat in the audience and hitting the comic across the face, then warning him — with expletives — not to speak about his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith. (Ms. Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss and necessitates her buzzing her hair on a daily basis.)
Mr. Smith earned an Oscar for his major role in “King Richard” not long after. He defiantly positioned himself as a defender of others in his address, and he apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees — but not to Mr. Rock. Mr. Smith apologized to Mr. Rock in a public statement the next day, after the academy criticized his behavior and began an investigation, and said he had been “out of line.”
The astonishing onstage action sparked a nationwide debate over who was to blame and why Mr. Smith had received no consequences after punching a live television presenter.
Wanda Sykes, one of the telecast’s hostesses, claimed in a tape from an interview with Ellen DeGeneres released Wednesday that the incident was “sickening” to her and that Mr. Smith should have been removed out of the building rather than being permitted to get his Oscar.
“I’m still a little disturbed by it,” Ms. Sykes remarked in a clip from an upcoming edition of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “How gross is it that they let him stay in that room and watch the rest of the show and get his award?” This is simply sending the wrong message.”