Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock, but he refused. In a statement, The Academy (via The Hollywood Reporter) announced that they were officially investigating Smith’s behaviour and clarifying that he was asked to leave after hitting Rock.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said. “While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently.” The Academy has also officially apologised to Rock.
According to a statement released after a Board of Governors meeting, Smith’s actions were in violation of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, “including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.” As a result, Smith could face expulsion or other sanctions when the board next meets on April 18, the statement. THR reports that several Academy members are pushing for Smith to be suspended, but at least one wants him expelled.
“I think everyone unanimously feels what he did was out of control,” the anonymous source said. “People want real consequence. Every member of every branch is reaching out to all their governors. It was an assault — and not only a physical assault but an assault on the community.”
Smith did apologise to the Academy and his fellow nominees after winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role in King Richard just minutes after hitting Rock. Notably, he did not say sorry to Rock, only apologising after the ceremony.
For his part, Rock has said he will not be pressing charges against Smith and was recently heard telling a stand-up audience that he’s still processing what happened.
Unsurprisingly the slap has generated a huge response online, mostly in the form of memes. There’s even a fan-made Magic the Gathering Will Smith slap card now.