Will Smith won his first best actor Oscar at last Sunday’s 94th Academy Awards ceremony, but he may be asked to hand back his trophy over slapping Chris Rock onstage during the live awards night.
“It’s basically [an] assault. Everyone was just so shocked in the room, it was so uncomfortable,” a highly placed Hollywood source told the New York Post following the incident. “I think Will would not want to give his Oscar back, but who knows what will happen now.”
While some members of the Academy’s Board of Governors are reportedly calling for the revocation of Smith’s best actor Oscar, others think that a suspension of the actor’s Academy membership is enough to penalize his behavior at the ceremony.
“We’re not going to take that Oscar from him. There will be consequences I’m sure, but I don’t think that’s what they’ll do,” Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the Board of Governors who’s also an Oscar winner and former host, said on The View on Monday.
A full meeting of the Academy’s Board of Governors has been set on Wednesday evening, where the now infamous Oscars slap is expected to be discussed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The announcement of the Wednesday meeting comes after the Academy revealed on Monday that it has launched a formal review of the incident. “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. 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,” reads the statement of the Academy.
This statement is a follow-up to a tweet posted by the Academy moments after the incident last Sunday.
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the Oscars?
In the last hour of the ceremony, Rock took the stage as a presenter to unveil the recipient of Best Documentary Feature. Prior to revealing the winner, Rock made a joke about the shaved head of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, implying that she was ready for a new G.I. Jane movie. However, the actress’ haircut is due to her public battle with alopecia, a diagnosis she received in 2018.
After hearing Rock’s joke, Smith ran on stage, slapped Rock, and quickly returned to his seat. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Smith yelled once he was seated. You can watch the uncensored exchange between Smith and Rock below:
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
Interestingly, sources told Variety that the tension between Smith and Rock goes back at least six years. At the Rock-hosted Oscars ceremony in 2016, the comedian cracked wise about Pinkett Smith’s decision to boycott the Oscars because of the lack of diversity of its nominees. It was also the year in which Smith was overlooked for his acclaimed performance in Concussion.
“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties,” Rock joked at the time. “I wasn’t invited!”
Multiple sources also shared that Rock has made jokes about Pinkett Smith during his standup shows over the years, angering Smith. So, the G.I. Jane crack on Sunday about the actress’ shaved head appeared to have pushed Smith to his limit.
Did Chris Rock press charges against Will Smith over the Oscars slap?
Shortly after the ceremony ended, the Los Angeles Police Department released a statement suggesting that Rock wouldn’t be filing a police report and, in turn, pursuing charges against Smith.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report,” reads the statement. “If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
Did Will Smith apologize to Chris Rock for the Oscars slap?
On Monday, Smith took to Instagram to apologize to Rock. Read Smith’s Instagram post below:
View this post on Instagram
Prior to this, after winning Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams in the film King Richard last Sunday night, Will Smith used his time at the podium to apologize to the Academy and to his fellow nominees for the incident,
“Love will make you do crazy things,” Smith said. “To do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s OK.”
He continued, “I want to apologize to the Academy and I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees — this is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying about winning an award…it’s about being able to shine light.”