Smith said he “will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct.”
Academy President David Rubin wrote in a statement that the organization “had received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation” and would “continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings” ahead of a board meeting on April 18.
Before presenting the best documentary trophy to Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and his collaborators on “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Rock made a crack about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, looking as though she would appear in a “G.I. Jane” sequel. The joke, which ceremony producer Will Packer later said was unscripted, referenced Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. The actress has spoken publicly about struggling with hair loss due to her alopecia.
Pinkett Smith looked unamused by the joke and, within moments, her husband made his way to the stage. He slapped Rock across the face and returned to his seat, where he yelled twice for the comedian to “keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth.” ABC cut the broadcast’s audio for more than 20 seconds.
Later in the ceremony, Smith won his first-ever Oscar — best actor, for playing Richard Williams in “King Richard.” He cried while accepting the award, noting that “love will make you do crazy things,” and apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees. He also thanked the Williams family for “entrusting me with their story” as Venus and Serena looked on from their seats in the Dolby Theatre.
On Wednesday, after the academy’s board of governors met to initiate “proceedings against Mr. Smith” for violating its standards of conduct, the organization announced that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after slapping Rock, but refused. What exactly happened has been disputed; Packer said on “Good Morning America” earlier Friday that he had not been privy to Smith being asked to leave voluntarily but that he did relay to “academy leadership” that Rock did not want Smith physically removed from the Dolby. However, a person close to Rock who declined to speak on the record said that the comedian was never asked if he wanted Smith removed from the ceremony, only if he wanted to press charges, which he ultimately declined to do.
The academy also apologized to Rock in its statement Wednesday and noted that “things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.