By Lynn Elber
Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed.
Smith in a statement released Friday afternoon said he will “full your accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”
Film academy president David Rubin said Smith’s resignation was accepted.
“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” Rubin said.
Smith said in his statement, “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work.
“I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” Smith continued. “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
The resignation came two days after the academy’s leadership board met to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct.
On Sunday, Smith strode from his front-row Dolby Theatre seat on to the stage and smacked Rock, who had made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. About a half-hour later, he went on to win the Academy’s best actor award for his role in “King Richard.”
Rock, who was about to present Oscar for best documentary when he was struck by Smith, declined to file charges when asked by police. He has only briefly addressed the attack publicly, saying at one comedy concert in Boston this week that he was still “kind of processing what happened.”
Smith stunned Rock, the theater crowd and hundreds of millions of viewers at home when he took the stage after Rock joked: “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.”
Pinkett Smith, who has spoken publicly about her hair loss condition, alopecia, had a closely shaved head similar to that of Demi Moore in the original “G. I. Jane” movie.
After Smith’s attack, the “Fresh Prince” actor returned to his seat and angrily twice shouted at Rock, “Get my wife’s name out your (expletive) mouth.” When Smith took the stage again less than hour later to accept his Oscar, he tearfully apologized to the academy but notably omitted any mention of Rock.
The fallout was immediate and intense. Smith had supporters for coming to his wife’s defense, but he was widely condemned for responding with violence and for marring both his long-sought Oscar victory and overshadowing the night’s other winners.
Featured photo: Will Smith accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for “King Richard” at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)