Will Smith is speaking out after the Academy announced he was banned for the Oscars for 10 years.
Smith told People in a statement, "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."
Last month, Will Smith and Chris Rock shared a heated exchange on the Oscars stage over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair — and to the shock of viewers and audience members, it turned physical when Will slapped Chris. Jada suffers from alopecia, reportedly unbeknownst to Chris at the time.
In a letter from Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson they called Smith’s behavior “unacceptable and harmful.”
The went on to acknowledge, “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. 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.”
The Board of Governors accepted his earlier resignation and decided that “for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”
The statement continued, “We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.”
The announcement ended with, “This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith's behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
After the Oscars, Will announced his resignation from the Academy.
He 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.” Those proceedings were moved up to April 8.
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.”
During the awards show, 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.”
Chris 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 for “King Richard.”
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.”
Chris has not formally addressed the altercation, but he has mentioned it during his Ego Death tour.
People reports that at a show last week in Boston, an audience member yelled out, “F—k Will Smith!” Chris wasn’t having it, saying, "No, no, no, no, no..."
The night before, Chris joked with the crowd, “How was your weekend?” He went on to say, “I don’t have a bunch of s--t about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that s--. And it will be serious and funny.”
Someone also yelled, “F—k Will Smith!” at the Wednesday show, but Rock simply replied, “I’m going to tell some jokes. It’s nice to just be out.”