“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the Academy said in a statement via Variety on Monday, March 28. “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.”
The organization, which has over 10,000 members from all branches of the film industry, implemented a new code of conduct in 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The regulations state that there is no room for members who “who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency.” The code also notes that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is “categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination.”
The release differs from the Academy’s Sunday, March 27, statement, released shortly after Smith, 53, hit Rock, 57, and subsequently won an Oscar.
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the group tweeted after the show. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
Behind-the-scenes at the Dolby Theater was chaotic as producers tried to figure out how to handle the situation. “The higher ups from The Academy, once they realized the slap was real, were first focused on making sure Chris was OK,” a source exclusively tells Us Weekly, noting that presenter insisted he was “fine” after the open-handed smack to his face.
“There were several people who thought Will should be removed from the show right after the incident took place,” the insider adds. “There was plenty of back and forth about what to do about Will. The reason in the moment was to allow Will to stay because Chris had gone backstage, and there wasn’t a risk of them bumping into each other again. Everyone knew where Chris and Will were afterwards and were not about to let them interact again for safety reasons.”
SAG-AFTRA released a similar statement hours after the Academy, also hinting a disciplinary action.
“As the union representing presenters and other performers working on the Oscars, SAG-AFTRA is focused on ensuring our members always work in a safe environment,” the union said in a statement via The Hollywood Reporter. “Violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never appropriate and the union condemns any such conduct. The incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable. We have been in contact with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC about this incident and will work to ensure this behavior is appropriately addressed. SAG-AFTRA does not comment on any pending member disciplinary process.”
Whoopi Goldberg, an Academy Governor, noted on Monday that “consequences” were expected.
“I think he overreacted,” the Ghost star, 66, said on The View. “I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to act under pressure. And he snapped.”
She noted that Smith will likely get to keep his Best Actor in a Leading Role trophy, which he won Sunday for his role in King Richard. “We’re not going to take that Oscar from him,” Goldberg said. “There will be consequences I’m sure, but I don’t think that’s what they’re going to do, particularly because Chris said, ‘Listen, I’m not pressing any charges.’”
Sunday’s ceremony took a turn when Rock took the stage to present best documentary. He joked about Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, joining the cast of G.I. Jane 2. Smith marched on stage and hit the comedian with an open hand. He returned to his seat next to his wife, 50 and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth!”
Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow best actor nominees during his acceptance speech. “Art imitates life,” he said. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum went on to celebrate at the Vanity Fair Oscars party with his wife and children after the awards show.
Reporting by Travis Cronin