Sunday, May 26, 2024

Will Smith Resigns From Academy As It Probes His Slap Of Chris Rock At Oscars

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Topline
Will Smith said Friday he had resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, multiple publications reported, and will accept any punishment imposed on him by the industry group, which has initiated a disciplinary process against the actor that could have led to expulsion for slapping Oscars presenter Chris Rock at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

Will Smith accepts an Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” at the 94th Oscars at the Dolby … [+] Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022.

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

In a statement quoted by Variety, Smith described himself as “heartbroken” and apologized to the Academy, to Oscars nominees who were overshadowed by Sunday’s incident and to Rock, remarking that he had “betrayed the trust of the Academy.”

Smith’s announcement came two days after the Academy announced it had begun disciplinary proceedings against him following the incident, which the Academy described as a “deeply shocking, traumatic event,” with expulsion or suspension among the options under consideration.

The Academy’s board of governors, which indicated that disciplinary action against Smith may take place at its April 18 meeting, still has the option to ban Smith from future Oscars ceremonies or to revoke his best actor Oscar.

Smith has so far not faced legal consequences for the attack and, though Rock still retains the option to press charges, he was “very dismissive” of this possibility, Oscars producer Will Packer told Good Morning America.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at … [+] Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.

Stefanie Keenan/VF22/WireImage for Vanity Fair

Key Background
At Sunday’s awards ceremony, Smith slapped Rock and demanded he “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth” after the comedian made a joke about the shaved head of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, a condition causing hair loss. Smith expressed varying degrees of contrition following the incident. Shortly afterward, Smith said he wanted to apologize and “make this right,” Deadline reported, citing unnamed sources. In his tearful acceptance speech for his best actor Oscar for his performance in the sports biopic King Richard, Smith apologized to the Academy and to other nominees, but did not apologize to Rock, instead musing on the difficulty of receiving “abuse” such as having people “talk crazy about you.” In an Instagram post the following morning, Smith apologized to Rock, though adding that “a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear.” Rock has remained mostly silent on the incident, remarking in a Wednesday comedy show at Boston’s Wilbur Theater that he was “still kind of processing” what had happened, but promising to address it in full in the future. A Morning Consult poll published Friday found that Smith’s favorability rating had fallen to a record low of 50%, down 30 percentage points from 2020.

Tangent
Dueling accounts have emerged regarding whether Smith was told to leave Sunday’s awards ceremony after he slapped Rock. While the Academy claimed Smith “refused to leave,” Variety and Deadline quoted anonymous sources claiming that Smith was never explicitly asked to do so. One source told Variety that Packer had urged Smith to stay, though another unnamed source “close to Packer” denied this.

Further Reading
“Will Smith’s Popularity Plunges 30% After Oscars Slap, Poll Finds” (Forbes)

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