Oscar winner Will Smith was asked to leave the 94th annual awards ceremony after beating Chris Rock on stage, but declined, the Academy said.
Mith, 53, won the leading man gong for King Richard but had burst onto the stage before his victory after responding to a joke by comedian Rock that referred to his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
A formal review of the incident has been launched to discuss what disciplinary action will be taken, and Smith is reportedly to be given an opportunity to defend himself in writing before the academy’s board of directors meets again on April 18.
The academy, whose board of governors met on Wednesday, said disciplinary action against Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions, adding in a statement: “Things were unfolding in a way we could not have foreseen.
“While 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.”
The academy issued a statement Sunday night following the incident, but added on Wednesday that Smith’s actions were “a deeply shocking, traumatic event to be witnessed in person and on television.”
They added: “Mr Rock, we apologize for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience at this moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what happened during a celebratory event.”
Smith returned to his seat at the Dolby Theater after beating Rock and twice shouted to the stage, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth.”
Rock had joked about Jada’s buzzcut, saying on stage, “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.”
The Magic Mike XXL star and Red Table Talk host has previously opened up about her struggles with alopecia and how it prompted her to shave her head.
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A shocked rock continued to present best documentary gong won by Summer Of Soul.
Smith later returned to the stage, accepting the Oscar and delivering an emotional speech about the importance of protecting the family.
Rock, 57, first addressed the incident publicly at a stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday night.
According to audio from the performance, shared by Hollywood retail outlet Variety, Rock told the crowd, “How was your weekend? I don’t have a lot of sh*** about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show that I wrote ahead of this weekend.
“I’m still processing what happened. So someday I’ll talk about it. And it’s going to be serious and fun.”
He reportedly received a standing ovation from his audience before his set.
Smith formally apologized to Rock on Instagram, admitting he reacted “emotionally” to the joke, but said “violence in all its forms is toxic and destructive.”
Pinkett Smith also called for a “season of healing” following the incident.
Smith’s behavior was heavily criticized by his Hollywood contemporaries, including Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes.
Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the actress and comedian said she was “still traumatized” and disappointed with how the show handled the “nauseous” incident.
She also praised Rock’s reaction after the altercation, revealing that he reached out to her to apologize for the incident, knowing it would overshadow her presenting efforts alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
“I just felt so terrible for my friend Chris. It was disgusting, absolutely disgusting. I felt physically ill and I’m still a little traumatized by it,” she said.
“And so they could have him stay in this room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is that? That’s just the wrong message’.”
“You attack someone, they escort you out of the building and that’s it. But I found it disgusting that they let him continue.”
Oscars showrunner Will Packer described the altercation as “a very painful moment for me.”
But others went further, with comedian Jim Carrey dubbing the Oscar audience “spineless” for applauding Smith’s win after his demeanor.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/will-smith-refused-to-leave-oscars-after-chris-rock-slap-academy-says-41505981.html Will Smith refused to walk out of Oscars after Chris hit Rock, Academy says