The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is expediting its disciplinary process against actor Will Smith over his on-stage smack of comedian Chris Rock during this year’s Oscars ceremony, calling a meeting for this Friday to determine what actions, if any, will be taken.
The Academy’s Board of Governors was originally expected to meet April 18 to discuss possible disciplinary action against Smith. But given Smith’s announcement last week that he was voluntarily resigning his membership from the Academy, the meeting was moved up.
Academy President David Rubin sent a letter to board members saying that in light of Smith’s resignation, “suspension or expulsion are no longer a possibility and the legally prescribed timetable no longer applies.”
“It is in the best interest of all involved for this to be handled in a timely fashion,” Rubin wrote.
Smith announced his resignation from the Academy on Friday, saying he was “heartbroken” by his actions attacking Rock on stage at the Dolby Theatre. He 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.”
Given his resignation, it was unclear what type of additional disciplinary action the Academy might take. Some observers have called on the Academy to rescind Smith’s best-actor win for his role in “King Richard,” but such a move is unlikely. Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein were both previously expelled from the Academy, but neither were forced to surrender Oscars they had won.
Rock was on stage at the Dolby Theatre on March 27 to present an Oscar 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.”