Will Smith resigns from academy after beating Chris Rock at Oscars

Will Smith said Friday night that he is retiring from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, less than a week after him beat Chris Rock during the Oscars.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards were shocking, painful and inexcusable,” Smith said in a statement. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, everyone present and the global audience back home.”

Smith said his actions both “betrayed the Academy’s trust” and “deprived other nominees and winners of an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work,” adding that he was “heartbroken.”

“I want to bring the focus back to those who deserve recognition for their accomplishments and allow the Academy to go back to the incredible work they do to support creativity and artistry in film,” he said. “As such, I resign my membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and will accept any further consequences that the board deems appropriate.”

“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” he added.

Academy President David Rubin said the organization has “received and accepted” Smith’s resignation and “will continue to pursue our disciplinary process against Mr. Smith for violating the Academy’s standards of conduct.”

Actor Will Smith punches comedian Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 27, 2022.

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The slap that sent shockwaves through Hollywood came after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife. Rock said he’s looking forward to a GI Jane sequel starring Jada Pinkett Smith, which is a nod to her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about losing her hair to the autoimmune disease alopecia.

Smith then took to the stage and punched Rock before returning to his seat and yelling, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth.” Rock declined to press charges, and the LAPD took no action against Smith, although the incident has sparked intense public debate as to whether his actions were justified. The academy said Wednesday that Smith had been asked to go after the slap, but he refused.

Smith’s decision to resign comes days after the academy announced it formal review initiated in his behaviourwhich included “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and endangering the integrity of the Academy.”

Though it’s possible the academy could take that back He won an Oscar for “King Richard” shortly after the slap, Whoopi Goldberg, who serves on the academy’s board of governors, said they would not strip him of the award.

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