After slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, Will Smith announced Friday that he is resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood ReporterSmith said he was heartbroken and would accept all consequences for his conduct at Sunday’s ceremony.
“My actions during the presentation of the 94th Academy Awards were shocking, painful and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, everyone who are in attendance and a global audience at home,” Smith said. “I have betrayed the trust of the Academy. I have deprived fellow nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. “I am heartbroken. I want to put the spotlight back on those who deserve recognition for their accomplishments and allow the Academy to return to the incredible work it does to support the creativity and art of filmmaking.”
Earlier this week, the Academy began disciplinary proceedings against Smith after a meeting of its board of trustees and released a statement saying Smith was asked to leave the show after the slap in the face but declined. The statement did not provide specifics, but acknowledged that the Academy “could have handled the situation differently.” A council member said THR that it was still unclear who asked Smith to leave, or the sequence of events, while two other sources said there was never a request made directly to the actor.
Smith’s resignation means he can no longer vote for the Oscars – but he can still be nominated for the Oscars, attend future ceremonies and keep the statue he won. Still, the official Academy review will continue.
“We have received and accepted the immediate resignation of Mr. Will Smith from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” Academy President David Rubin said in a statement. “We will continue to advance our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violating the Academy’s standards of conduct, prior to our next board meeting scheduled for April 18.”
The actor said in his statement on Friday that he had responded to the Academy’s Notice of Disciplinary Hearing and would “fully accept all consequences” of his conduct.
Rock was presenting Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars on Sunday when he directed a G.I. Jane joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head (the actress suffers from alopecia). Next, Smith took the stage, slapped Rock, then returned to his seat where he yelled at the comedian to keep his wife’s name out of his “fucking mouth.”
Later in the series, while accepting the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard, Smith issued a tearful apology to the Academy and the other contestants. But it wasn’t until Monday, in an Instagram post, that Smith apologized to Rock. Rock has remained mostly silent, telling the audience during his comedy show in Boston on Wednesday night, “I’m still processing what happened. … So at some point I will talk about this shit. And it will be serious, and it will be funny.
In an interview aired on Friday hello america, Oscars 2022 telecast producer Will Packer said he initially thought Smith hitting Rock was a bit, until Rock came backstage and confirmed he had really been hit . “Once I saw Will scream on stage with such vitriol, my heart sank. And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh no, oh no. Not like this,'” Packer recalled. “Chris kept his head when everyone was losing theirs.”
Packer said Rock insisted he was fine and declined to press charges when approached by the LAPD.