Will Smith was asked to leave Sunday’s Oscars ceremony after hitting Chris Rock but refused to do so, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said in a statement.
The Academy’s board of governors met on Wednesday to begin disciplinary proceedings against Smith, which it said could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.
Will Smith attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Picture date: Sunday March 27, 2022. Doug Peters
"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the academy said in a statement. "We also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."
The group said action may be taken at its next board meeting on April 18. That may include "suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions," the statement said.
FILE PHOTO: Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo BRIAN SNYDER
During the live Oscars telecast, Smith strode up to the stage after Rock made a joke about the appearance of Smith's wife, then smacked the comedian's face. The actor returned to his seat and twice yelled an obscenity at Rock.
Rock regained his composure and announced the winner of best documentary, Questlove's "Summer of Soul."
Earlier Wednesday, Oscars co-hosts Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes said they were sickened by the turn of events at the film industry's highest honors.
"Still triggered and traumatized," Schumer said in a post on Instagram three days later. "I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro. Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend @questlove and the whole thing was so disturbing."
"So much pain in @willsmith anyway I'm still in shock and stunned and sad," she added. "Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed."