Will Smith was asked to leave Oscars after slap but refused, Academy says | Will Smith

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said that Will Smith was asked to leave to Sunday’s Oscars after hitting Chris Rock but refused.

The Academy’s board of governors, which met on Wednesday, said it had also initiated disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct.

Many have questioned why Smith was allowed to remain seated front row at the Academy Awards after the incident. On Wednesday, the Academy suggested that it attempted to remove the actor from the audience.

“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said. “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 said Smith had the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on 18 April. The Academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

The film academy earlier condemned Smith’s onstage assault of Rock. But it used stronger language on Wednesday.

“Mr Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,“ the academy said. “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.”

Smith shocked viewers of Sunday’s awards show when he walked onstage and slapped Rock across the face. Rock had moments earlier made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, that mocked her short hairstyle. Pinkett Smith has been open about her alopecia-related hair loss.

On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, the Academy and viewers, saying: “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

“I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress,” Smith said in an Instagram post. Jada Pinkett Smith, meanwhile, has called for “healing”.

Rock has yet to publicly comment on the incident. The comedian was due to begin a series of shows on Wednesday night in Boston, his first since the Oscars.

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