Actor Will Smith was banned Friday from attending any Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences events — including the Academy Awards — for 10 years in response to his on-stage smack of comedian Chris Rock during this year’s Oscar ceremony.
Smith won this year’s best-actor Oscar for his work in “King Richard,” but the evening was marred when he assaulted Rock on stage at the Dolby Theatre during the ceremony, in response to the comedian making a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
The Academy’s Board of Governors had been considering punishing Smith by either suspending his membership in the Academy or expelling him from the organization. But Smith took those options off the table last week by resigning from the group.
The Academy board met Friday to consider alternative actions, and emerged with the 10-year ban.
“The board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement.”
Smith, in a brief statement issued after the Academy’s announcement, said, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”
Meanwhile, Rubin and Hudson also apologized in their statement for their response to the altercation on Oscar night.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room,” they said. “For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
Critics have lashed out at the Academy for allowing Smith to remain in the Dolby Theatre after attacking Rock during the March 27 event, and allowing him to take the stage a short time later to accept the best-actor Oscar and give a drawn-out acceptance speech and tearful apology for his actions.
Rock was on stage at the Dolby to present an Oscar when he made a joke referencing Jada Pinkett Smith’s 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.”
In announcing his resignation from the Academy last week, Smith said he was “heartbroken” by his actions 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.”
In their joint statement Friday, Rubin and Hudson again blasted Smith’s behavior, saying the Oscars “were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year, however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behaviors we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.”
They also gave kudos to Rock “for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances.”
“We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast,” they wrote. “This action we are taking Friday in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”