In response to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ disciplinary hearing on Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock during Sunday’s Oscars, the actor has left the organisation voluntarily, pre-empting the harshest punishment he could have received.
The Academy’s president David Rubin said it had accepted Smith’s resignation but would continue its disciplinary proceedings.
Smith slapped Rock over a joke about his wife’s shaved head caused by the alopecia condition. Less than an hour later, he was awarded the best actor award for playing the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard”.
The Academy’s more than 50 Governors, including Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, and Rita Wilson, met virtually on March 30. Smith was given 15 days to respond to their assertion that he violated the Academy’s standards of conduct with his violent behaviour on 17 March. Smith’s fate was to be decided by the group on 18 April.
Under the Oscar organisers’ rules, expulsion was an option, but taking away Smith’s Oscar was not. Furthermore, sources close to the event indicate that the tradition of having the previous year’s Best Actor hand out the Best Actor award is no longer an option for Smith for the 95th Academy Awards.
Smiths’ resignation statement
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” his statement said.
“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith said.
“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.”
The actor said he wanted to “put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements”.
He concluded that “change takes time, and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason”.
Chris Rock is not pressing charges
Chris Rock decided not to press charges against Smith, according to reports. He addressed the incident during a stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday, saying he was “still kind of processing what happened”.
Fans gave the comedian, currently touring the US in his “Ego Death” show, a standing ovation.
Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, broke her silence in a brief Instagram post on Wednesday, writing: “This is a season for healing, and I’m here for it.”