- Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, the body that awards the Oscars.
- This comes five days after he slapped Chris Rock during a
live broadcast of the award ceremony.
- “I deprived other nominees and winners of their
opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am
heartbroken,” the actor said.
Will Smith resigned from the body that awards the Oscars on
Friday, five days after he assaulted comedian Chris Rock during a live global
The actor said his actions, which overshadowed Hollywood’s
glitziest night of the year, were “shocking, painful and
“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,” Smith said.
“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.”
Attendees at the Dolby Theatre watched open-mouthed as Smith
mounted the stage and slapped Rock across the face after the comic made a joke
about his wife’s closely cropped head.
Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes
hair to fall out.
He returned to his seat and shouted obscenities at Rock, who
has been widely praised for keeping a cool head and getting things back on
Half an hour after the astonishing attack, Smith was awarded
the best actor Oscar for his role in sports biopic King Richard.
There have been conflicting reports in recent days over
whether Smith was asked to leave the ceremony, with the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences saying he refused to go.
The group said this week it was starting disciplinary action
against Smith – only the fifth Black man to win the movie world’s highest
individual award for a man – and warned he could face a rare expulsion.
But on Friday, Smith pre-empted that punishment.
“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the
Board deems appropriate.
“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.”
Rock, who told a comedy audience in Boston this week he was
“still kind of processing” events, has drawn praise for the way he
Oscars producer, Will Packer, told ABC that it was the
comic’s professionalism that allowed the show to go on.
“Because Chris continued the way that he did, he
completed the category. He handed the trophy to [best documentary winner]
Questlove… it gave us license in a way to continue the show, which is what we
were trying to do,” he said.
Packer said he had counselled against ejecting Smith from
the theatre after speaking to Rock as he walked off stage.
“I said: ‘Did he really hit you?’ And he looked at me,
and he goes: ‘Yes. I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,'” Packer said.
Smith played the legendary boxer in the 2001 film
Packer said he had not been part of the conversation about
removing Smith, but he had spoken against it.
“I immediately went to the Academy leadership that was
on site, and I said: ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that,’ I said: ‘Rock has made it
clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse.'”
The standing ovation Smith received for his Oscar win has
been heavily criticised, with accusations that Hollywood did not take the
Packer said the applause was for the actor and his work, not
for the incident.
“I think that the people in that room who stood up,
stood up for somebody who they knew, who was a peer, who was a friend, who was
a brother, who has a three-decades-plus-long career of being the opposite of
what we saw in that moment,” he said.
“I don’t think that these were people that were
applauding anything at all about that moment, and all these people saw their
friend at his absolute worst moment and were hoping that they could encourage
him and lift him up and that he would somehow try to make it better.”