Politics

Will Smith slap: Actor refused to leave Oscars after striking Chris Rock


As the Film Academy begins disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith, bombshell new information from Oscars night has been released.

Will Smith refused to leave the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock onstage on Monday, it has been revealed.

In a bombshell new twist to the saga, the Academy has revealed Smith was asked to vacate the Dolby Theatre after “the deeply shocking, traumatic event”, but the King Richard star stood his ground and went on to receive best actor to a standing ovation.

In a statement released today, the organisation admitted “things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” while detailing what happened in the room.

“While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently,” the statement read.

As reported by Deadline, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors have given Smith “15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response”.

It comes after an initial vote was overwhelmingly in favour of taking the matter further.

“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,” the statement read.

According to Deadline, the Academy could also decide to press charges against Smith, even though Rock declined to file a police report.

Full Academy statement

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 behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

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 apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize 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 recognize we could have handled the situation differently.

Demands for Smith to lose Oscar

It comes as many call for Smith to be stripped of his Oscar after slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage in a violent outburst.

The King Richard actor found himself at the centre of a formal review after he stormed the stage in retaliation to Rock’s joke about his wife’s shaved head. 

Minutes after striking Rock and sending the audience into a stunned silence, Smith was presented with the Oscar for best actor. After delivering a tearful acceptance speech which addressed the incident but did not include an apology to Rock, he then received a standing ovation from his industry peers.

We now know that in the moments between the slap and the speech, he was asked to leave the premises.

Understandably, his earlier antics marred the accolade, and kickstarted a raging debate over whether he should be able to keep the gong — the first Oscar the prolific actor has ever won.

Behind the scenes it was just as chaotic, prompting crisis talks within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which launched a formal review on Tuesday.

Smith is yet to respond to the report.

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Academy’s initial response to slap

On Tuesday, the Academy announced it was going to “explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law”.

The news came after reports of a furious top-secret Zoom meeting held after the ceremony in which some members of the Academy demanded the Men In Black star be booted from the prestigious organisation.

On Twitter in the early hours of Monday morning they said: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form.

“Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”

Smith, 53, sent Hollywood into a spiral after he stormed the Dolby Theatre stage and slapped Rock after he insulted his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary when he mocked Jada’s shaved head and joked live on stage: “Jada, I love you, G. I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”

Matrix actor Pinkett Smith, who first revealed she suffered from hair loss condition alopecia in 2018, rolled her eyes at the sensitive joke — which appeared to push Smith into action.

As horrified stars looked on, Smith leapt to his feet, marched right up to Rock and slapped him hard across the face, before strolling back to his seat in the front row where he yelled, “Leave my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,” twice as a tense silence gripped the room.

Rock offered support from Academy

Insiders said Rock – who declined to press charges against Smith following the shock moment – was offered an “after care package” by the Academy to cope with the incident.

A source said: “The Academy publicly condemned Will slapping Chris and behind the scenes they went into full crisis mode.

“Once the ceremony was over the called in key members to hold an emergency meeting about what action they should take.

“There have been calls to have Will stripped of his Best Actor gong.

“They cannot be seen to be condoning violence in any way and there are some people in the Academy who believe they should remove the award from him to make a point.

“Others however believe he should be allowed to hold onto it.

“Chris was immediately supported backstage and has been offered a package of after care where he can talk to professionals provided by the Academy if needed.

“The Academy are taking this incredibly seriously.”

The Los Angeles police department issued a statement confirming Rock had not opted to press charges, although he was offered the chance to do so.

They said: “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program.

“The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.

“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

Hollywood stunned by violent outburst

A-list actors and the public also called for Smith to be punished.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted: “Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault … not so much.”

American comedian Rosie O’Donnell added: “So upsetting on every level. Bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating Will Smith – which he could do any day of the week.

“He walked away – bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman.”

Jim Carrey later called the act “selfish” and said he was “sickened” by the events of the evening.

Meanwhile, TV host Howard Stern saying he was deeply “disturbed” by Smith’s actions.

However, some backed the I Am Legend star’s behaviour and agreed they would have done the same.

Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley said his actions were “understandable.”

He said: “It’s clearly not OK but it’s happened and once it’s happened you have to analyse the motives behind it.

“What I’m trying to suggest is, although you can say it was wrong, is it something you can say was understandable in the heat of the moment.”

Smith’s night of partying after slap

Following the ceremony The Pursuit of Happyness actor was seen living it up seemingly without a care in the world at the Vanity Fair official Oscars after-party.

He was filmed clutching his statuette and moving to the music as his 1997 song Get Jiggy Wit It played.

Although Jada, who married Will in 1997, and their children Jaden, 23, and Willow, 19, and Will’s son Trey, 29, from his relationship with Sheree Zampino, attended the bash they were not seen dancing with him.

A day later, he took to Instagram with a grovelling note.

“My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Smith wrote. “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.

“I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.

“There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

The King Richard actor continued: “I would also like to apologise to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologise to the Williams family and my King Richard family.

“I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

“I am a work in progress.”

Smith ‘on a knife-edge’ during awards season

According to industry sources, Smith was “fed up” after tolerating months of jibes about his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith on the awards circuit, the New York Post reported.

One source close to the Smiths said, “Will and Jada have taken the high road when it comes to ‘stupid gossip’ about polyamory and Scientology.

“But they have felt more exposed these past few years and it’s taken its toll.”

They have repeatedly been dogged with questions about their marriage of 25 years during this awards season, and Smith is, according to the source, “fed up with it.”

Critics say that’s a little rich, considering Pinkett Smith has been so upfront about the marriage issues and has even profited off them by discussing them on her Red Table Talk show on Facebook.

Stars expelled from Academy in the past

The Academy had not been known to eject prominent members from the organisation until fairly recently.

In 2017, convicted rapist and former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was the first to be removed amid allegations of sexual harassment and rape.

Then, in 2018, after adopting a code of conduct for members, it booted disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, who had his sexual assault conviction overturned last year, and filmmaker Roman Polanski, who had fled the country years earlier while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape.



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