Will Smith “Refused” to Leave Oscars Ceremony After Outburst, Academy Says

King Richard's Will Smith "refused" to leave the Oscars after he slapped Chris Rock on stage of the ceremony in response to a jab at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, according to the Academy.

By Steven Vargas Mar 30, 2022 11:22 PMTags
Watch: Jada Pinkett Smith Posts About "Healing" After Will Smith's Oscars Slap

Will Smith would have been escorted out of the Oscars, but he refused, according to the Academy

After the King Richard actor walked onto the 2022 Oscars stage and slapped Chris Rock in response to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the Academy allegedly asked him to leave, the awards organization said in a statement obtained by E! News.

"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the statement read. "While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."

The Academy also shared that the Board of Governors started disciplinary proceedings to decide what Will's consequences should be. According to the statement, Will violated "the Academy's Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy."

Will will be given at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his actions and the opportunity to provide a written response to defend himself and have a chance to be heard before a final decision is made. The meeting is currently scheduled for April 18.

Celebrities React to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

"Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television," the statement continued. "Mr. Rock, 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."

David Livingston/Getty Images

E! News has reached out to Will's rep for comment but did not hear back.

What could this mean for Will's future involvement at the Oscars?

According to the Academy's statement, disciplinary actions could include "suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct." Other consequences could include being banned from the Academy events, such as future Oscars ceremonies, or "public reprimand." 

He would have the chance to appeal the board's decision within 10 business days.

Will offered a public apology to Chris on March 28. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris," the Oscar winner said. "I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

Expulsion from the Academy is rare and has only happened to five members, as reported by Vanity Fair. Notably, the Academy expelled Harvey Weinstein from the Academy in 2017 after The New York Times reported on allegations of sexual misconduct that resulted in his conviction of criminal sexual assault and one count of rape, and Bill Cosby in 2018 following his conviction of sexual assault—that has since been overturned.

The slap that shook the Dolby Theatre caused some in the room to call for some sort of disciplinary action, including from co-host Wanda Sykes. Wanda shared that she "felt ill" and "traumatized" from the altercation. 

"You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that's it," she said in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on March 30. "But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross."

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