Best Actor Oscar winner Will Smith on Friday (U.S. Pacific Time) accepted the decision of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to ban him from all Academy events, including the Oscars, for 10 years, reports ‘Variety’.
Smith, who resigned from the Academy last week, replied soon after in a statement, saying: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”
In a statement issued after its 54-member Board of Governors took the call, the Academy noted: “The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behaviour we saw Mr Smith exhibit on stage.”
Apologising for the way it came across as unprepared, the Academy said: “During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
The statement also hailed comedian Chris Rock, the recipient of Smith’s infamous slap. It said: “We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.”
Reporting on the Academy’s action, ‘Variety’ observed: “The organisation did not have too many other options to impose, especially with Smith’s membership now no longer active following his resignation.”
It added: “His resignation and barring from future telecasts does not preclude him from being nominated or even winning future Academy Awards during that time.”
There have been calls from industry insiders and moviegoers for Smith’s Oscar to be taken back, which the Academy has no legal authority to claim, ‘Variety’ noted. “To compare, convicted criminals Harvey Weinstein and director Roman Polanski still hold their Oscars following their expulsions,” it added.
Smith assaulted Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Pinkett Smith, also a Hollywood star, has spoken publicly about her struggles with hair loss due to the condition known as alopecia. Smith later apologised to Rock in an Instagram post the day after the incident.
The Oscars have struggled with their messaging and fallout after the incident. Criticism was heated from Academy members and Hollywood industry professionals regarding the decision to allow the ‘King Richard’ actor and producer to accept his statuette and speak for several minutes uninterrupted.
When the disciplinary proceedings were announced, the Academy said in a statement that Smith had refused to leave the ceremony, something multiple sources have refuted.