The Academy Apologizes to Chris Rock, Says Will Smith ‘Refused’ to Leave Oscars

The Academy is moving forward with their formal review of what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday evening. As was seen live by millions of viewers worldwide, Rock had joked about Jada Pinkett Smith by suggesting that he could not wait to see her in GI Jane 2. This led to Smith approaching Rock and smacking him across the facefollowed by screaming profanities at the comedian over the joke.

Previously, the Academy said in a brief statement that they “condemn” Smith’s actions from that night along with word of their investigation beginning. An updated statement released on Wednesday goes more into detail by announcing that Smith faces a possible suspension or expulsion. This is due to the King Richard actor’s “inappropriate physical contact” and his “threatening behavior.” In accordance with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct and California law, Smith has also formally been given 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations, along with the opportunity to be heard beforehand.


Also included is a direct apology to Chris Rock over the slapping incident. The Academy notes that they could not have anticipated what happened that night but admits they could have “handled the situation differently.” In response to criticism over the Academy allowing Smith to remain at the ceremony for the rest of the evening, the Academy also claims that Smith was, in fact, asked to leave and simply “refused” to do so.

Related: Jim Carrey Felt ‘Sickened’ by Will Smith’s Standing Ovation After Chris Rock Attack


Chris Rock declined to file criminal charges against Will Smith for the attack, though he has up to six months from the date of the incident to change his mind. This will keep Smith out of jail, as an assault charge would have had him facing up to one year behind bars. Even so, Smith does not exactly come out of this situation in the clear, given the pending actions that may be taken against him by the Academy. You can read the full statement below, by Deadline.

“The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, 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.

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

Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. 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. “

Will Smith has publicly apologized to Chris Rock in an Instagram post, stating that his actions were “inexcusable.” Meanwhile, the new statement from the Academy arrives as Rock prepares to perform in front of sold-out crowds in Boston.

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