Will Smith resigns from Oscars Academy over Chris Rock slap: 'My actions were painful, inexcusable'

  • Will Smith has resigned from the Academy for hitting Chris Rock. The actor has called his actions ‘shocking, painful, and inexcusable'.
Will Smith hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on March 27. (AP Photo)(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Will Smith hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on March 27. (AP Photo)(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Updated on Apr 02, 2022 07:25 AM IST
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Actor Will Smith resigned on Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed. Will in a statement said he will “fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable." (Also Read | Chris Rock shuts down a fan who abused Will Smith during his live performance: ‘No no!')

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” read his statement.

“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” Will concluded in the statement.

Film academy president David Rubin said Will's resignation was accepted. "We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”

Will loses voting privileges with his resignation. But there are other, less tangible benefits to being part of the academy, Hollywood's most prestigious organization: It bestows industry credibility on its members. It's invitation-only, and with a once-a-year membership review.

The resignation came two days after the academy's leadership board met to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Will for violations against the group’s standards of conduct. Those proceedings could have resulted in suspension or expulsion, and it was not immediately clear what additional punishment he could face.

Had he been expelled, Will would have joined a small group of men removed from the academy: Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, and the actor Carmine Caridi, who was kicked out for sharing awards screeners.

On Sunday, Will strode from his front-row Dolby Theatre seat onto the stage and smacked Chris, who had made a joke at the expense of Will's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Moments later, he went on to win the best actor award for his role in King Richard.

Chris, who was about to present Oscar for best documentary, declined to file charges when asked by police. He has only briefly addressed the attack publicly, saying at one comedy concert in Boston this week that he was still "kind of processing what happened”.

Will stunned Chris, the theater crowd, and viewers at home when he took the stage after Chris joked, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”

Jada, who has spoken publicly about her hair loss condition, alopecia, had a closely shaved head similar to that of Demi Moore in the original movie.

After Will's attack, he returned to his seat and angrily twice shouted at Rock to “get my wife’s name out your (expletive) mouth.” When Will took the stage again less than an hour later to accept his Oscar, he tearfully apologised to the academy but notably omitted any mention of Chris.

The fallout was immediate and intense. Will had supporters for coming to his wife's defense, but he was widely condemned for responding with violence and for marring both his long-sought Oscar victory and overshadowing the night's other winners.

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Friday, July 01, 2022