Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars after hitting Chris Rock but refused, the Academy said on Wednesday – also declaring that he had violated their code of conduct.
The 53-year-old actor marched onto the stage on Sunday and hit Rock, after Rock told a joke about Smith’s wife.
Shortly after, Smith was announced as the winner of the best actor award and went up to collect his statuette to a standing ovation from many of his peers.
On Wednesday the Academy said it had launched ‘disciplinary procedures’ against Smith, and confirmed he ignored their request for him to leave his seat.
Rock, who is yet to respond to Smith’s attack or his apology, will be on stage in Boston on Wednesday night for his first show since the incident.
‘The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,’ their statement said.
‘Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.’
Smith will receive 15 days notice of a vote as well as an opportunity to be heard by written response.
At the next board meeting – scheduled for April 18 – the Academy may take action that could include ‘suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.’
Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars Sunday after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The Academy revealed on Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave, but refused
Rock covers his jaw after being slapped in the face but went on to announce the winner for best documentary after a very awkward pause
Shortly after the slap, Will added a comment to his own Instagram post, quipping: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere’
In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – whose members vote for the awards, and who stages the ceremony – but stopped short of apologizing to Rock.
Smith initially laughed off the attack, writing on Instagram on Sunday evening: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!’
Yet as the gravity of the situation became clear, Smith then posted a public apology to Instagram 24 hours after the ceremony, saying he wanted to say sorry formally to Rock.
He said his behavior was ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’ and left him ’embarrassed’.
‘I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,’ he wrote.
‘I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.
‘There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.’
Smith brushed off a tumultuous night by partying to celebrate the greatest achievement of his career: Best Actor at the Oscars
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith showed a united front after the row with Rock overshadowed his Oscar win
Condemnation of Smith has grown in the intervening days.
In a letter leaked on Tuesday night, signed by Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, it states that the ‘Academy’s Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith.’
Smith faces a range of outcomes, including forcing him to hand back his Oscar.
The most severe punishment would be expulsion from the Academy.
That would put Smith among the ranks of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, who were both expelled for sexual misconduct.
Marshall Herskovitz, president emeritus of the Producers Guild of America, was among the first to condemn Smith, tweeting shortly after the attack that Smith had ‘disgraced our entire community’.
He said: ‘I call upon the Academy, of which I am a member, to take disciplinary action against Will Smith. He disgraced our entire community tonight.’
Herskovitz accused those who defended the actor of ‘moral cowardice’.
‘People standing up and applauding after the first assault in 94 years of Oscar history. Moral cowardice,’ he said.
Several Hollywood celebrities denounced Smith’s actions.
Alec Baldwin posted to Instagram and Twitter his condemnation of Smith’s behavior.
‘I’m sorry the Oscars turned into the Jerry Springer Show,’ he said.
Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith attend the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party
The actor put on a brave face for photographers after his big moment was undermined by his violent outburst
Comedian and director Judd Apatow called the display ‘pure out of control rage and violence’, claiming that Smith ‘could have killed’ Rock.
He wrote: ‘Seems like Will Smith’s plan to get comedian and the world to not make jokes about him is not going to pan out.
‘The Williams family must be furious. Pure narcissism.’
Actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner tweeted: ‘Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did.
‘He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bulls**t’.
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill dubbed it the ‘ugliest Oscar moment ever’.
He added: ‘Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much.’