Will Smith resigned from Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Friday in a self-imposed penance for having slapped comedian Chris Rock across the face on stage Sunday night.
“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” Smith said in a statement reported by New York Times reporter Nicole Sperling. “My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. 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. I betrayed the trust of the Academy.”
Smith continued: “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. 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. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”
Oscars producer Will Packer said on Good Morning America Friday that the LAPD had arrived after the incident and were prepared to arrest Smith for battery. It was Rock, Packer said, who insisted that they take no action against Smith, including forcibly removing Smith from the ceremony.
“Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ ... Even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish,’” Packer said. “The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were, and they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And [Chris] said, ‘No.’”
Smith went onto win Best Actor award, and he apologized to Rock in an Instagram post a few days later.
There’s been some speculation this week as to whether the Academy would ever invite Smith back to the Oscars, and Smith went ahead and made that decision himself to put the questions to rest.
Smith has noted that he acted out against Rock because the comedian had made jokes about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, which is the result of a medical condition called alopecia. It’s still no excuse for how he reacted, Smith said in his statement Friday, and he is “doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”