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The 53-year-old actor struck the comedian – who made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaven head – across the face on less than an hour before he picked up his Best Actor statuette for his role in ‘King Richard’ and now the Academy has revealed that he was “asked” to leave the ceremony after the incident.
The Academy said: “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
The statement – issued by The Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – also explained that while he is under investigation for the slap, Will is “being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote” regarding any disciplinary action they may choose to take.
The statement, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter read: “Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.
Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”