Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars on Sunday night but refused, a new statement from The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences revealed this evening. The same report states that the Academy is preparing to bring formal disciplinary charges against Smith, who walked on to stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Despite the incident itself being broadcast pretty much planetwide, its aftermath has been somewhat tricky to track; either ABC or the Academy, realizing they had a problem on their hands, quickly moved to edit Smith’s audio out after he left the stage. (Foreign markets—and people with literally any skill at reading lips— still got his clearly angered “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” though.) We have reports (and Smith’s own first-hand account) that Denzel Washington came over to the Smiths to try to calm the moment after Rock left the stage, but this is the first we’re hearing that anyone from the Academy asked the eventual Best Actor winner to actually leave.
In its description of the incident, the Academy’s statement calls it “a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television.” They also issue a formal apology to Rock, stating that, “we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
The statement also notes that the Academy is having its next board meeting on April 18, at which time disciplinary action against Smith will be discussed.
Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.