Following the surprising Oscars moment involving Will Smith slapping presenter Chris Rock, the Academy indicated they were looking into the incident further and would hand out possible punishment for Smith.
On Wednesday, the Academy also came out with a statement saying that Will Smith was asked to leave following the incident but refused.
However, there’s now some contention as to whether or not that is true due to conflicting reports on the matter.
Academy indicated Will Smith was asked to leave Oscars
The 94th Academy Awards should have been a night where significant and impressive work in motion pictures is celebrated. Unfortunately, things took an ugly turn following Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who has shaved her head due to her struggles with alopecia.
“Jada, I love you,” Rock said after pointing at her in the audience. “G.I. Jane 2. Can’t wait to see it.”
His remark initially had some of the audience laughing, including Will Smith, shown on camera during the telecast. Meanwhile, the look on Jada’s face was one of disgust about the joke.
Soon after, Will Smith left his spot in the crowd to walk up to the stage and smacked Chris Rock in the face before returning to his seat. He then shouted at Rock to leave his wife’s name out of his mouth.
Rock continued presenting the award, and Will Smith remained in the audience. Smith later claimed the award for Best Actor and gave a lengthy and emotional speech, which received a standing ovation.
According to the New York Times, Will Smith was asked to leave the ceremony following his actions, but the actor refused.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said in a statement. “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 Academy’s comments arrived as part of a statement that they were looking into disciplinary action against Will Smith.
Sources suggest the Academy lied, Smith was asked to stay
On Thursday, a conflicting report arrived via TMZ in which a source says the opposite of what the Academy said is true and that Will Smith was asked to stay at the ceremony rather than leave.
According to the sources, there wasn’t a consensus amongst officials at the ceremony about kicking Smith out. Some wanted him gone, while others felt he should stay.
TMZ’s report says their sources indicated that Oscars producer Will Parker went up to Will during a commercial break and said, “We do not want you to leave.”
Based on what sources said, Parker went to Smith 35 minutes after he’d slapped Chris Rock during the live telecast. He claimed the award for Best Actor five minutes after that.
Following the Oscars telecast, the Academy released an initial statement via Twitter saying they don’t condone violence. A day later, they became more aggressive, indicating they were conducting a review of the matter for possible disciplinary action against Will Smith.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” a spokesperson said. “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.”
According to Deadline, it’s believed Smith could be either suspended or expelled from the Academy due to his actions, but he isn’t likely to lose his Oscar award for Best Actor.