Will Smith Apologises to Chris Rock for That Slap as Academy Launches Investigation


Around a day after slapping Chris Rock on stage during the Academy Awards, Will Smith has released a statement with a direct apology to the comedian.

The much-discussed incident saw Smith hit Rock across the face after the comedian made a quip directed at Jada Pinkett Smith. Specifically, the jab targeted Pinkett Smith’s shaved head: “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2 ““ can’t wait to see it.”

In December, Jada revealed that she suffers from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia, which can lead to hair loss.

Awkwardly, Smith was back on the same stage not long after in order to accept his first Academy Award – a Best Actor win for his work in King Richard. His tearful acceptance speech included an apology to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock. That’s now been rectified.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” reads Smith’s statement. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith continued. “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.”

Smith again apologised to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, just as the organisation takes a stronger stance on the incident.

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the Academy said in a statement. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”

THR reports that a meeting of the Academy’s board of governors has been set for Wednesday evening (U.S. time), with this situation expected to be the primary topic of discussion.

Part of the Academy’s “breach of conduct” description reads: “Physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome, or coercive sexual attention”, this includes “Intimidation, stalking, abusive or threatening behavior, or bullying”.

The question now: what punishment – if any – could be handed to Smith? Some have speculated that the actor could have his Oscar removed from him, although various reports say that is highly unlikely. A suspension of Smith’s Academy membership is possible, including being banned from one or more Oscar ceremonies.

The Los Angeles Police Department approached Rock about the incident and offered him the chance to file a report. Rock declined. He does, though, have six months to change his mind.

Smith concluded his statement: “I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”


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