Will Smith gets 10-year ban from Oscars after slapping Chris Rock on stage
The Academy also apologised for its handling of the situation and for allowing Will to stay and accept his Best Actor award for King Richard
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday banned actor Will Smith from attending the Oscars or any other Academy event for the next 10 years following the incident at this year’s awards ceremony where he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage.
The move comes after a meeting of the Academy’s Board of Governors to discuss a response to Smith’s actions.
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage,” the Academy said in a statement.
The Academy further apologised for its handling of the situation and for allowing Will to stay and accept his Best Actor award. “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry,” they wrote. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented (sic).”
In a statement that was released a few days after the Oscars, the Academy said Will had been asked to leave the ceremony but refused. However, it is unclear on how the message was delivered to the actor or what form it took, since several media outlets reported that he was never formally told to leave the Dolby Theatre. Media sources also said that Oscars producer Will Packer told Smith: “Officially, we don’t want you to leave. We want you to stay (sic).”
The Academy also expressed “deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances (sic)” in their statement.
In response to the Academy’s statement, Will said, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision (sic).” He earlier resigned from the Academy last week during the run-up to the meeting, calling his actions “shocking, painful, and inexcusable (sic).”
However, the actor can keep the Best Actor Oscar he won for his performance in King Richard, after the slap. He will also continue to be eligible for any future nominations, but cannot show up to the awards ceremony to accept any of the awards he wins in the 10-year period. Will has been nominated for four Oscars so far and won once.
The ban also indicates that Will cannot present one of the major awards at next year’s Oscars, as is tradition for the Best Actor winner of the year.
At the Academy Awards on March 27, Chris Rock came out to present the Best Documentary award and cracked jokes about several attendees, including Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it (sic),” said Chris.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who has spoken publicly about her hair loss condition, alopecia, had a closely shaved head similar to that of Demi Moore in the 1997 movie.
After hearing this, Will strode to the stage and smacked Chris, stunning the comedian, the theatre crowd and viewers.
Many thought it was a planned gag set up by the show or the men themselves, but the seriousness of the situation set in after Will returned to his seat and angrily shouted twice at Chris to “keep his wife’s name out your f******* mouth (sic).”
Following this incident, Chris said he had no interest in pursuing charges when asked by the police backstage.
Will took the stage again less than hour later to accept his Oscar, tearfully apologising to the academy but notably omitting any mention of Chris. He compared himself to Richard Williams, the man he played in King Richard: “a fierce defender of his family.”
Chris 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 (sic).”