Will Smith Apologises, Faces Academy Probe After Oscars Slap

by BLOOMBERG / pic by AFP

THE Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences opened a formal review of Will Smith’s behavior after the actor slapped presenter Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Oscars Sunday, adding it would explore possible “consequences” for his actions.

Smith, who would later win best actor, returned to his seat after hitting Rock, who had made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He also screamed a series of expletives at Rock, which were edited from the U.S. broadcast. Rock then finished his assignment handing out the Oscar for best documentary feature.

“The academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the organisation 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.”

Smith used his acceptance speech to apologise to the academy, though not to Rock, justifying his actions as a defense of his family, and hoped he’d be invited back.

In an Instagram post on Monday, however, he did say he was sorry directly to the comedian.

“I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris,” Smith said. “I was out of a line and I was wrong.”

The Oscars were broadcast live on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network and drew an audience of about 15.4 million viewers.

Will Packer, the producer of the broadcast, initially made light of the incident, but tweeted later that it “was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”