Will Smith Resigns Academy Membership After Slapping Chris Rock
Nearly a week after he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards, Will Smith has stepped down from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
In a statement, Smith called his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable.”
He added, “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. 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.”
Will acknowledged that what he did overshadowed the show and its winners.
He said, “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.”
Smith also noted that he would accept any additional consequences from the Academy.
He stressed, “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
In response to Smith's statement, Academy president David Rubin said, "We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith's immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 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.”
Earlier this week, the Academy revealed that “disciplinary proceedings” had been initiated.
According to the Academy, Smith violated “the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
Smith had been “provided at least 15 days" notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand.”
If the Academy decided to take any disciplinary action, it could include “suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted.”
On Sunday, Smith smacked Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair.
Chris was presenting Best Documentary when he poked fun at Jada, saying he was looking forward to “G.I. Jane 2.”
Pinkett Smith immediately did not look pleased, and Will walked straight onstage and smacked Chris with his open hand.
As Smith walked back to his seat, a clearly shaken Rock said, “Oh, wow — Will Smith just smacked the s—t out of me.”
Rock insisted, “It was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke,” and Will twice yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth.”
Rock told him, “I’m going to.”
Despite the altercation, Smith remained at the show, where he would later take the stage to accept his Best Actor award.
During his acceptance speech, he apologized to the Academy, saying, “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people. Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of ‘King Richard,’ Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.”
Oscars 2022 producer Will Packer has given his account of what transpired after Smith slapped Rock onstage during an appearance on “Good Morning America.”
Packer commented on the reports that Smith was asked to leave, but refused. He said, “Someone told me that they were about to physically remove Will Smith, and I had not been a part of those conversations, so I immediately went to the Academy leadership that was on site and I said, ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that,’ I said, ‘Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse,’ that was Chris’ energy. His tone was not retaliatory, aggressive, or angry. So, I was advocating for what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time.”
He added, “As it has now been explained to me, that was the only option at that point. It has been explained to me that there was a conversation that I was not a part of to ask him to voluntarily leave.”
A source disputes Packer’s account, saying Chris was never asked if Will should stay or go. After Packer’s interview aired, the insider told TMZ, "Chris told Packer, 'I'm not pressing charges. All I want to do is leave.' He was never asked if he wanted Will removed. This is the Academy covering itself."
An Academy source insisted to the site, "Will Packer is not speaking on behalf of the Academy."