Academy Stands By Claim They Asked Will Smith to Leave Oscars

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is standing by its claim that it asked Will Smith to leave the Oscars on Sunday after he slapped Chris Rock.

After the altercation in which Will Smith went on stage at the awards show and slapped presenter Chris Rock, the Academy claimed that Smith was asked to leave the event.

Despite several conflicting reports that said the Academy never formally asked Smith to leave, an industry source told Newsweek that the Academy is standing by its statement.

"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the Academy said on Wednesday. "While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."

On Thursday, Variety reported that what it called "sources close to the situation" claimed Smith was never asked to leave the awards show, although this has not been officially confirmed. It is also unclear how the Academy tried to remove the actor from the theater.

"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," the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said in a statement.

Disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions, the Academy said, and the board will meet again on April 18.

Any potential disciplinary action against Smith is the consequence of the incident where he slapped Rock, who joked about Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars on Sunday.

At Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, Rock made a comment about Pinkett Smith's short haircut, which Pinkett Smith has divulged is due to her battle with alopecia.

"Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," Rock said in reference to the 1997 film G.I. Jane starring Demi Moore.

Smith issued an apology on Monday, stating that the incident was "unacceptable and inexcusable."

Celebrities and people on social media have commented on the incident since Sunday, and Comedian Wanda Sykes said on Ellen on Wednesday that Smith should have been forced to leave the Oscars.

"For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award," Sykes told host Ellen DeGeneres, "I was like, 'How gross is this?' This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building, and that's it, but for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross."

Newsweek reached out to a representative for Smith for comment but did not hear back prior to publication.

Update 3/31/22 4:40 PM ET: This story has been updated with additional information.

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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is standing by its claim that Will Smith had been formally asked to leave the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock. In this photo, US actor Will Smith (R) slaps US actor Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images