Actor Will Smith resigned his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Friday, saying he is “heartbroken” by his actions during Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, when he walked on stage at the Dolby Theatre and smacked comedian Chris Rock in the face.
In a statement first reported by Variety, Smith acknowledged receiving a disciplinary notice from the Academy and said he will “fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct.”
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable,” he said. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance and global audiences at home.
“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.
“So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, and will accept any further consequences the board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
The Academy has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of the organization’s conduct standards, with the Board of Governors set to meet April 18. The board will consider measures including suspending or revoking his membership in the Academy.
Academy President David Rubin issued a statement confirming the organization had received Smith’s “immediate resignation.”
“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” Rubin said.
Smith, 53, has been under fire since his actions during Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony. Rock was on stage at the Dolby Theatre to present an award when he made a joke referencing Smith’s wife — actress Jada Pinkett Smith — and her bald head. Pinkett Smith suffers from the hair-loss condition alopecia.
Will Smith walked onto the stage and smacked Rock in the face, then returned to his seat and twice shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.”
Smith was allowed to remain at the ceremony, and later accepted the best-actor Oscar for his work in “King Richard,” portraying the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
Academy officials said Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after the incident, but he refused. Sources with the Academy, however, told various media outlets subsequently that no such request was ever made directly to Smith, and show producer Will Packer specifically told the actor he could remain.
In an interview that aired Friday on “Good Morning America,” Packer said Los Angeles police were at the theater and prepared to take Smith into custody following the altercation.
“They were saying, `This is battery,”’ Packer said. “That was the word they used in that moment. They said, `We will go get him. We are prepared. We will go get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him.’
“They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was, he was being very dismissive of those options,” Packer said. “He was like, `No, I’m fine’ … even to the point where I said, `Rock, let them finish.’ The LAPD officers finish laying out what his options were. And they said, `Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said, `No.”’
The Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement Sunday night saying Rock had declined to pursue any charges against Smith.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” according to the department. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
Rock made his first public appearance Wednesday night since the Oscars, performing in Boston to begin a worldwide stand-up tour. He mentioned the incident at the beginning of the show, telling the crowd he was “still kind of processing what happened.”
“So, at some point, I’ll talk about that (expletive), and it will be serious, and funny,” he said.