Why Will Smith Is Missing the 2023 Oscars—Actor's Absence Explained

The 95th Academy Awards are taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, March 12.

Stars like Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, and Angela Bassett are expected to take home awards at this year's Oscars, with actors like Colin Farrell, Cate Blanchett, and Jamie Lee Curtis also in the running.

There have been plenty of presenters announced for the ceremony, including Halle Berry, Harrison Ford, Pedro Pascal, Riz Ahmed, Halle Bailey, Antonio Banderas, and Elizabeth Banks.

One star who will not be present at the 2023 Oscars, however, is Will Smith, who won Best Actor for his role in King Richard at the 2022 awards.

Will Smith at 2022 Oscars
Will Smith pictured accepting the Best Actor award for 'King Richard' onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022, in Hollywood, California. The actor will not be at the 2023 Academy Awards on Sunday, March 12. Getty Images/Neilson Barnard

Newsweek has everything you need to know about what happened with Smith at last year's Academy Awards, and why he won't be turning up this year.

Why Is Will Smith Not at the 2023 Oscars?

In April 2022, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced The Pursuit of Happyness actor Smith was being banned from all Academy events, including the Oscars, for 10 years as punishment for slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.

Smith walked on stage during last year's ceremony to strike Rock, after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, saying she should star in G.I. Jane 2 because of her bald head.

Smith then shouted at Rock twice that he should "keep my wife's name out your f****** mouth" when he returned to his seat from the stage.

Chris Rock and Will Smith slap
Will Smith (R) pictured slapping Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. The incident occured just minutes before Smith was awarded his Oscar for his role in 'King Richard.' Getty Images/Robyn Beck / AFP

Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, the general medical term for hair loss, a diagnosis Rock later said he was unaware of before he made the joke.

Following the slap, Smith went on to win the Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard, the biographical sports drama about Serena and Venus Williams' father, just minutes later.

On April 1, 2022, five days after the 2022 Oscars, Smith announced his resignation from the Academy, publicly apologizing to the Academy, as well as to Rock.

His resignation meant he forfeited his right to vote for the Oscars, as well as to receive access to Academy screenings of films to watch before voting; but it does not affect his eligibility to be nominated and win future Oscars, or his Oscar for King Richard.

After the 2022 Oscars, the Academy issued a statement describing Smith's actions as "unacceptable and harmful."

"The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year, however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage," the statement said.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith 2022
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pictured at the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022, in Hollywood, California. Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Pinkett Smith. WireImage/Kevin Mazur

Then, a few days after Smith's resignation, the Academy confirmed Smith's decade-long ban, releasing a statement that read: "For a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards."

Smith responded to the news in a brief statement, saying: "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."

Comedian Rock recently took aim at Smith over the incident in his Netflix stand-up special Selective Outrage.

Rock appeared keen to clear the air during the special, which was filmed at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, but waited until the end of the show to address Smith and his thoughts on what happened.

The comedian and Madagascar voice actor joked how it "still hurts" after the slap, and suggested that the incident was less about him and more about Pinkett Smith's past infidelity, referring to her 2020 revelation that she had a romantic relationship with musician August Alsina.

Chris Rock Netflix special
Chris Rock, pictured in a still from the end of his Netflix special 'Chris Rock LIVE: Selective Outrage', mentioned last year's Oscars incident in his stand-up special. The comedian and 'Madagascar' voice actor joked how it "still hurts" after the slap. Netflix/Kirill Bichutsky