After the actor controversially slapped Chris Rock live on stage, the Academy has launched a formal review.
Following what instantly became one of the most controversial moments in recent television history, the official fallout has begun. After Will Smith struck Chris Rock live on stage at the Oscars this past Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences behind the annual ceremony has launched a formal review into the incident.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” a spokesperson for the Academy said. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
After Rock made a joke about the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s wife, and her buzzcut hair, which is a result of her alopecia, the actor went up on stage and slapped Rock. After returning to his seat, Smith continued a heated exchange with Rock, telling him twice to “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.” The moment, which has set the internet ablaze, shadowed the rest of what was arguably the most uneven and unusual Oscar nights ever.
After the incident, Academy initially put out a statement online claiming vaguely that they condemned violence. Meanwhile, producers were likely scrambling to decide what to do and whether to escort Smith out for the rest of the night — a decision that was complicated by the fact that Smith was up for Best Actor later on, an award that he ultimately won.
During his long and tearful speech, Smith partially addressed the incident by apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees, though he did not mention Rock’s name. He alluded to Richard Williams, the character he played in his Oscar-winning performance in King Richard, throughout his speech, calling him a “fierce protector of his family.”
“I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s okay,” Smith said. He added, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
It’s unclear what actions the Academy’s review will lead to, but Variety reports that it would be unlikely that Smith would be asked to forfeit the award. Afterwards, Chris Rock declined to press charges, and Diddy, who took to the stage to present an award immediately following the incident, told Page Six that Smith and Rock had reconciled, without providing any specific details. “Thank you,” Smith said in closing his speech, before laughing wryly. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”