NEW YORK (AP) — The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said Sunday that Will Smith was asked to leave Sunday's Oscars after hitting Chris Rock but refused.
Many have questioned why Smith was allowed to remain seated front row at the Academy Awards after the incident.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the academy said in a statement to the Associated Press. “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 board of governors met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group's standards of conduct.
The academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18.
The academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy said in the statement. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
While presenting the award for best documentary, Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's buzzed haircut.
Pinkett Smith announced last year she shaved her head after struggling with alopecia.
“Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock said.
That's when Smith walked up onto the stage and slapped Rock, stunning everyone.
Once he sat back down, Smith shouted to Rock, twice, “keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth.”
An hour later, Smith won his first-ever Oscar for his role in "King Richard."
He received a standing ovation.
During his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the academy but didn't mention Rock.
On Monday, Smith apologized to Rock, the academy and to viewers, saying in a statement that he "was out of line and I was wrong.”
On Wednesday, Rock is set to perform in public for the first time since the incident. His first set begins in Boston at 7:30 p.m.