Will Smith resigns from Academy following backlash over Chris Rock slap

ByGeorge Pennacchio, Christiane Cordero KABC logo
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Will Smith resigns from Academy following Chris Rock slap backlash
Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after facing possible discipline from the Academy over slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

LOS ANGELES -- Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as he faces possible discipline over slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Smith released the following statement Friday afternoon:

I have directly responded to the Academy's disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. 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.

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. 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.

Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.

WATCH: Will Smith resigns from Academy over Chris Rock slap. Here's what that means

Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as he faces possible discipline over slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

The news comes just two days after the Academy's leadership board met to start disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group's standard of conduct.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, founded in 1927, is the world's preeminent movie-related organization made up of more than 10,000 accomplished individuals working in cinema, according to the Academy's website. The organization recognizes excellence in the art of motion pictures.

David Rubin, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a statement Friday afternoon:

"We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith's immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18."

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On Sunday, Smith strode from his front-row Dolby Theatre seat on to the stage and smacked Rock, who had made a joke at the expense of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Moments later, he went on to win the best actor award for his role in "King Richard."

Rock, who was about to present Oscar for best documentary, declined to file charges when asked by police. He has only briefly addressed the attack publicly, saying at one comedy concert in Boston this week that he was still "kind of processing what happened."

Smith shocked the theater crowd and viewers at home when he took the stage after Rock joked: "Jada, I love you. 'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it."

Pinkett Smith, who suffers from the hair loss condition alopecia, had a closely shaved head similar to that of Demi Moore in the original movie.

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The 94th Academy Awards show producer Will Packer told ABC News in an exclusive interview that LAPD officers told Rock, "We will do whatever you want us to do, and one of the options is that we will go and arrest him right now."

"I knew he (Chris Rock) had an amazing lineup of jokes that we had. We had them in the prompter. And ultimately he did not get to one joke," Packer said.

"And I thought this was part of something that Chris and Will were doing on their own. I thought it was a bit," Packer explained when asked about the moment Smith walked up on stage. "I wasn't concerned at all. I figured, OK, you know, he's going to say something, or come at him, something funny is going to happen because that's the nature of Chris, and that's the nature of Will."

"Once I saw Will yelling at the stage with such vitriol, my heart dropped," Packer added. "And I just remembered thinking, 'oh no, oh no. Not like this.' And Chris was keeping his head when everyone else was losing theirs. I never felt so immediately devastated like I did in that moment."

"As the winners are walking off stage, Chris is with them, and I immediately go up to Chris," Packer explained. "I said, 'did he really hit you?' and he looked at me, and he goes, 'yeah.' He goes, 'I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,' as only Chris can. He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much still in shock."

The Associated Press contributed to this report