Video: “My behavior was unacceptable.” Will Smith addresses Oscars slap, apologizes to Chris Rock
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Will Smith has apologized to Chris Rock for slapping the comedian at the Oscars earlier this year, addressing the incident in a new video posted to social media.
During the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, Smith walked onstage and slapped presenter and comedian Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head with a reference to the main protagonist in the film G.I. Jane.
Smith then returned to his seat and yelled to Rock, twice, saying “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” Pinkett Smith had been diagnosed with alopecia areata in 2018 and would later shave her head due to the condition. Later in the night, Smith was named Best Actor for King Richard and apologized to the Academy of Motion Pictures and the other nominees, but not to Rock, in his acceptance speech.
Following public backlash, Smith issued a formal apology. ABC, The Academy, and the Screen Actors Guild condemned Smith following the incident, prompting an investigation by the Academy’s Board of Governors. Rock declined to press charges against Smith, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. On April 1, 2022, Smith tendered his resignation from the Academy, writing in part:
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 Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.
The AMPAS President David Rubin accepted the resignation in an official statement but said they would continue their investigation. Smith’s resignation means he is no longer able to vote on Oscar nominations as a member of the Academy. Commentators have speculated that Smith’s resignation from the Academy and other related fallout from the slap would damage his “family brand”.
On April 8, 2022, the Academy announced its decision to ban Smith from future Oscars galas and associated events for a period of 10 years. Several film projects that Smith had been involved in were put on hold as a result of the controversy.
In a statement to CNN, Smith stated: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.” Smith offered an on camera apology on July 29, saying he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions.