Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in the wake of his on-stage assault of Chris Rock during last Sunday’s 94th Oscars.
Smith, in a statement first obtained by Variety on Friday, called his actions during the ceremony ‘shocking, painful and inexcusable,’ adding that he would accept any additional consequences issued by the Academy’s Board of Governors.
‘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,’ Smith said. ‘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.’
The actor also acknowledged that slapping Rock during the ceremony caused other award winners to be overshadowed.
‘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,’ Smith, 53, said.
He also shared how ‘change takes time’ and he is now ‘committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.’
The Academy said it has accepted Smith’s ‘immediate resignation’ and will ‘continue to move forward’ with its disciplinary proceedings against him for violations of the group’s standards of conduct. Smith’s resignation came two days after the organization met to initiate the disciplinary hearings.
Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in wake of his onstage assault of Chris Rock during the last Sunday’s Oscars show (pictured)
In a statement released Friday, Smith called his actions during the show ‘shocking, painful and inexcusable’ and said he would accept any additional consequences issued by the Academy’s Board of Governors. Smith is pictured accepting the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard during last Sunday’s Oscars
How does one become an Academy member?
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences membership is available to qualified artists – ranging from actors, writers, production members and more – working in the production of theatrically-released motion pictures.
The obtain membership, an artist must be sponsored by two Academy members from the branch to which the candidate seeks admission.
There are 17 branches of the Academy.
Oscars nominees are automatically considered for Academy membership and do not require sponsors.
After being nominated or sponsors, candidates are then reviewed by branch committees who will make recommendations for membership.
Those recommendations are then considered by the Academy’s Board of Governors, which ultimately decides who will receive an invitation to become a member.
Membership review occurs annually.
Specific requirements for each membership category and Academy branch can be found on the organization’s website.
Source: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Smith’s shocking move comes just one day after sources close to the actor confirmed to The Sun that he and his lawyers had planned to write to the Academy to plead his case ahead of his upcoming hearing on April 18.
‘Things are hanging in the balance. He will write an official letter to apologize, and effectively beg for their forgiveness,’ the source revealed Thursday.
‘He is also expected to hold a call with show bosses in the next 24 hours. April 18 is D-Day, though — he will find out if he still has an Oscar, and quite possibly, a career.’
Sources familiar with the situation also claim the fate of his upcoming projects, including the Apple-funded slave escape drama Emancipation, remains in question.
‘Production executives and studio chiefs do not want to be seen picking a side too early,’ the insider said, noting that Smith was expected to return for a fourth installment of the Bad Boys franchise although no start date has been set yet.
News of the actor’s resignation also followed a Good Morning America interview with Oscars producer Will Packer that aired Friday morning and detailed the Academy’s immediate response to the attack.
After the actor onto the Oscars stage on Sunday and hit Rock, Academy officials asked Smith to leave the ceremony, Packer said. The producer claimed they were considering physically removing Smith, an option that he successfully lobbied against.
Packer said that his co-producer Shayla Cowan informed him that Academy officials ‘were about to physically remove Will Smith.’
‘I had not been a part of those conversations, and so I immediately went to the Academy leadership that was on site and I said, “Chris Rock does not want that. Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse”,’ said Packer.
Los Angeles police were prepared to arrest Will Smith after he slapped Chris Rock during the Academy Awards on Sunday night, but didn’t at the request of the comedian, Oscars producer Will Packer claims
Smith was presented with his first Academy Award after the onstage attack
‘I was advocating what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time. Because as it has now been explained to me, that was the only option,’ he said. ‘There was a conversation, that I was not a part of, to ask him to voluntarily leave.’
However, a source close to Rock told TMZ denied that the comedian was ever asked about removing Smith from the theater.
‘Chris told Packer ‘I’m not pressing charges. All I want to do is leave.’ He was never asked if he wanted Will removed. This is the Academy covering itself.’
Packer also said police told Rock they would remove Smith from the audience and arrest him for battery.
‘We will go get him, we are prepared to get him right now,’ the cops said to Rock, Packer recalled. ‘You can press charges. We can arrest him.’
Packer claimed Rock was dismissive towards police, but he encouraged the comedian to hear them out before making a decision.
‘They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, “No, I’m fine.” He was like, “No, no, no,”‘ the producer said.
Ultimately, Rock declined to press charges, however police said in a statement Sunday ‘if the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.’
Chris Rock looks shocked during the Oscars Sunday after Smith came onstage and slapped him for making a remark about Jada Pinkett Smith’s haircut
As evidenced by her unamused expression, Pinkett Smith did not appreciate the joke
Smith marched onto the Oscars stage on Sunday and hit Rock, after the comedian told a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock’s wisecrack was targeted at Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, a style she has embraced in wake of her alopecia diagnosis.
‘Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,’ Rock said to Pinkett Smith, whose close-shaven head looked similar to Demi Moore’s in the 1997 movie, during his presentation of the award for best documentary.
Whether Rock was aware that Pinkett Smith suffered from a hair-loss condition is unknown, but Smith reacted with the smack and an angry warning ‘to keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth!’
Shortly after, Smith was announced as the winner of the best actor award and went up to collect his statuette to a standing ovation from many of his peers.
In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy – whose members vote for the awards, and who stages the ceremony – but stopped short of apologizing to Rock.
Smith initially laughed off the attack, writing on Instagram on Sunday evening: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!’
Yet as the gravity of the situation became clear, Smith then posted a public apology to Instagram 24 hours after the ceremony, saying he wanted to say sorry formally to Rock. He said his behavior was ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’ and left him ’embarrassed’.
‘I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,’ he wrote. ‘I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.’
Pinkett Smith’s first public comment came in an Instagram post Tuesday in which she said: ‘This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.’
Chris Rock stopped his fans from cursing out Will Smith during his comedy show in Boston Thursday night
Rock, seen on Thursday, has been performing to sold-out crowds in Boston, but has not spoke at length about the incident
Rock, who held comedy shows in Boston on Wednesday and Thursday, has refused to go into any detail about the ‘Slap Heard Round the World.’
After being met with ‘Will Smith’ chants from the audience, the comedian did briefly address the slap during the show, noting that he still needs time to ‘process’ the assault.
He also told the crowd: ‘I haven’t talked to anyone, despite what you heard,’ referencing rumors that Rock and Smith had made amends.
But come Thursday night, Rock had to stop his fans from cursing out Smith.
‘F**k Will Smith!’ a fan shouted, likely in an attempt to show support for Rock.
‘No, no, no, no, no…’ the comedian replied, according to People, putting an end to the verbal attacks.
The comic, 57, took to the stage at the Wilbur Theatre on Wednesday and asked: ‘How was your weekend?’
The rhetorical question got a big laugh from the crowd, which occasionally heckled the Emmy-winning comedian about Will Smith’s on-screen strike. But Rock warned those at the sold-out venue that the show would go on as planned.
‘I don’t have like a bunch of s*** to say about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I had like a whole show I wrote before… this weekend…’ he said to more laughs. ‘And I’m still kind of processing what happened.
‘So at some time I’ll talk about that s***… and it’ll be serious. It’ll be funny,’ he said before an audience member shouted, ‘F*** Will!’
‘I’m gonna tell some jokes,’ Rock concluded, later revealing that he hasn’t spoken to ‘anyone’ since the incident, alluding to reports that he and Smith have reconciled.
But some of the 3,000 fans in the audience – who paid up to $1,000 per ticket – are disappointed that the stand-up comedian avoided the topic on everyone’s mind.
‘We want our money back, I didn’t pay $400 to see nothing,’ one person told Fox News.
Chris Rock posed with fan Gerard Cole at the AMC Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts, just days after being slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars
Despite the chatter surrounding the Oscars incident, Rock has seemingly been maintaining a sense of normalcy.
The comedian showed up solo at the AMC Boston Common movie theatre in Massachusetts on Thursday, TMZ reported.
Rock strolled in to the theatre, got some popcorn, a hotdog and a water, and then headed off to see a film – though, it is not known which one.
But not before fan Gerard Cole stopped Rock and asked him to pose for a photo, which the comedian happily obliged while balancing an armload of movie snacks.
Smith has yet to be seen on a public outing.
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