Will Smith Apologizes To Chris Rock For The Slap And The Academy Weighs In Action

LOS ANGELES (March 28) (Reuters) – Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock on Monday for slapping the comedian at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, issuing a statement after the Film Academy said it may take action against Smith in an incident that overshadowed major industry awards. .

Smith, in an Instagram post, said his behavior at the televised party was “unacceptable and unforgivable”.

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith wrote. “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

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Smith walked onto stage and hit Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife’s appearance. Less than an hour later, Smith won Best Actor for his role as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard.”

Rock, in a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, had referenced the 1997 movie “GI Jane” in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. It was not clear if Rock was aware that Smith’s wife had a disease that causes hair loss.

“The jokes on me are part of the job,” Smith said Monday, “but the jokes about Jada’s medical condition were too much for me to handle, and her reaction was emotional.”

“I am embarrassed and my actions are not indicative of the man I want to be,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, the 9,900-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned Smith’s actions and said it was reviewing the matter.

“We have officially begun a formal review of the incident and will explore further actions and consequences in accordance with our internal regulations, standards of conduct and California law,” the academy added.

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The group’s policy of conduct states that it “opposes any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination” and expects members to uphold the values ​​of “respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity”.

Violations may result in suspension or expulsion from the organization, cancellation of the Academy Awards, or disqualification for future awards, depending on the policy.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents the actors, called Smith’s actions “unacceptable” and said it had been in contact with the academy and ABC “to ensure this behavior was appropriately addressed.”

Will Smith (right) hits Chris Rock as Rock speaks on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US, March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

It is rare, but not unprecedented, for the Film Academy to withdraw its membership. Producer Harvey Weinstein was fired in 2017 after more than thirty women accused him of sexual assault.

In his statement, Smith also apologized to the Academy and Show producers, attendees and viewers, the Williams family, and “My Family of King Richard.”

Studio managers remained publicly silent about Smith on Monday. The 53-year-old actor has projects working with Netflix Inc (NFLX.O)The Walt Disney Company (DIS.N) and Apple TV + (AAPL.O). The companies did not respond to requests for comment. Read more

One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, Smith has given franchises to lucrative films such as “Independence Day” and “Men in Black”. His films have grossed more than $9 billion at the global box office, according to researcher comScore.

Oscars producers were hoping for an unforgettable Sunday night to recover from record lows during the COVID-19 pandemic. They brought in three hosts, opened the show with Beyoncé and cut out some acceptance speeches.

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But Smith’s anger spread quickly, with photos and videos bouncing back across social media.

TV viewership has jumped sharply this year, to an average of 15.36 million people, up 56% from 2021, according to preliminary estimates.

Feel-good “CODA” won Best Picture, marking a turning point in Hollywood as the film was broadcast by Apple TV+ (AAPL.O) Instead of appearing exclusively in theaters.

Many Hollywood celebrities denounced Smith’s actions. Read more

“Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did,” film director Rob Reiner said on Twitter.

Others supported Smith to defend his wife.

“That’s what your husband is supposed to do, isn’t it?” comedian Tiffany Haddish told People magazine.

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(Reporting by Lisa Richwin) Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and Don Shmielfsky; Editing by Jonathan Otis, Margarita Choi and Sandra Mahler

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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