Sunday, May 26, 2024

Will Smith Banned From Oscars for 10 years After Slapping Chris Rock

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Will Smith, who stormed the stage at the 2022 Oscars to slap Chris Rock shortly before winning the year’s best-actor prize, has been banned from attending the Oscars and all other Academy events for 10 years, the Academy’s Board of Governors decided Friday.

“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement following the announcement.

The decision comes following a meeting that had initially been scheduled for April 18, before Academy president David Rubin  rescheduled it earlier this week. After Smith resigned from the Academy last Friday, as Rubin wrote in his letter to board members, “suspension or expulsion are no longer a possibility, and the legally prescribed timetable no longer applies. It is in the best interest of all involved for this to be handled in a timely fashion.”

“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage,” Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in a letter following the meeting. “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers, and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short— unprepared for the unprecedented.”

“Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”

The letter goes on to express gratitude to Rock “for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances,” and to call its decision “a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy.” 

Smith’s slap on Oscar night left virtually everyone watching stunned—and though the Academy has claimed that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony afterward, accounts vary, to put it mildly. But the drumbeat of outrage only grew louder in the days following the ceremony, and by the time Smith resigned last Friday, a sanction from the Academy seemed inevitable. “I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” Smith wrote in a statement at the time of his resignation. “My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”

The ripple effect of Smith’s actions has extended far beyond the Academy itself. Netflix has reportedly moved an upcoming Smith project to the back burner, and Apple TV+, a fresh best-picture winner for CODA, will face tough choices on how to handle their upcoming film Emancipation, in which Smith plays a man escaping slavery. 

In addition to his Academy resignation statement and his rambling best-actor acceptance speech, Smith has also posted a statement to Instagram apologizing to Rock and the Academy. Rock, other than a quick aside at the beginning of a recent standup set in Boston, has yet to comment on the event publicly

More Great Stories From Vanity Fair

— For Better or Worse, With One Slap, Will Smith Electrified the Oscars
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— CODA’s Triumph Revealed What It Takes to Win Best Picture Now—And Why Netflix Lost (Again)
— Oscars 2022: What You Didn’t See on TV
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