Will Smith refused to leave the Oscars after a slap in the face, according to the Academy

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday that actor Will Smith was asked to leave the Academy Awards after he slapped Chris Rock onstage on Sunday night, but the actor refused to leave. go.

“Things unfolded in a way that we could not have foreseen,” the academy said in a statement announcing that it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith. “Although we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently.”

Shortly after the revelation, Mr. Rock used a sold-out comedy show in Boston to make his first public comments on the incident since Mr. Smith slapped him during the Oscars live global broadcast.

“How was your week end?” Mr. Rock asked the crowd at the Wilbur in Boston’s Theater District.

“I’m still processing what happened,” Mr. Rock said, briefly touching on the topic everyone was talking about. He promised to discuss it in more depth later. “It’ll be serious, it’ll be funny, but I like – I’m going to tell jokes.”

Since Sunday’s incident, Hollywood celebrities both connected and unrelated to the awards show have weighed in freely on the incident. Mr. Rock, 57, was not among them. The stand-up veteran and actor-director did not speak publicly about the incident until his Wednesday night show.

Mr. Rock’s entrance was met with an immediate standing ovation, and after the audience members sat down, they rose to their feet again, prompting the comedian to try to silence them so he could begin.

“Let me put on a show,” he said. “You made me all hazy.”

He addressed the elephant in the room, noting that he didn’t have much to say about what had happened. “So if you just heard that, I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend,” he said.

Mr. Rock’s grace under pressure that night was one of the few things that drew praise following an ugly moment: He stayed on stage after being punched, joked to the stunned audience that “It was the greatest night in television history,” and continued the show.

The Los Angeles Police Department said shortly after the incident that the person involved – presumably Mr Rock – had “refused to file a police report”.

The academy’s revelation that Mr Smith, 53, had been asked to leave came after its board met on Wednesday to discuss the incident. The organization did not say who made the request; Earlier this week, two industry officials with knowledge of the situation said there had been serious discussions about Mr Smith’s withdrawal from the theater, but did not say he had been asked to leave.

The academy said it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith “for breaching the academy’s standards of conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and undermining the integrity of the academy. “. He said Mr Smith would be given the opportunity to respond and that at his next board meeting on April 18 he “may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions. “.

“Sir. Smith’s actions at the 94th Academy Awards were a deeply shocking and traumatic event to witness in person and on television,” the academy said in a statement. Rock, we apologize for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience at this time.

Wednesday’s two-and-a-half-hour board of governors meeting was described by two attendees as “emotional” as governors conveyed the feelings of their constituents from different branches of the film industry. The feeling in the room, according to those present, was that it was their obligation “not to normalize the violence”, said two governors who were granted anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

The incident unfolded on Sunday when Mr Smith reacted to a joke Mr Rock had made about his wife’s buzzing hair by leaving his seat in the audience and slapping the comedian in the face, then warning him – with swear words – not to talk about his wife. , actress Jada Pinkett Smith. (Ms Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss and has caused her to curl her hair regularly.)

Shortly after, Mr. Smith won an Oscar for his lead performance in “King Richard.” He used his speech to defiantly present himself as an advocate for others and apologized to the academy and fellow nominees – but not to Mr Rock. The following day, after the academy condemned his actions and launched an investigation, Mr Smith apologized to Mr Rock in a public statement and said he had been ‘out of place’.

The jaw-dropping moment on stage immediately sparked a national debate over who was to blame and questions about why Mr Smith suffered no repercussions after punching a presenter on live television.

Wanda Sykes, one of the hosts of Sunday’s TV show, said in an excerpt from an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that was shared on Wednesday that the moment was “sickening” to her and that she thought Mr Smith should have been escorted out of the building instead of being allowed to stay and accept his Oscar.

‘I’m still a bit traumatized by it,’ Ms Sykes said said in the clip from an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” which is slated to air next week. “For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his price – I was like, how disgusting is that? It’s just the wrong message.

Nicole Sperling reported from Los Angeles and Julia Jacobs reported from Boston.

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