Los Angeles, Apr 8 (EFE).- The Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences voted Friday to ban actor Will Smith for 10 years from all events it organizes, including the annual Oscars ceremony.
That punishment has handed down in response to a March 27 incident at this year’s Oscars, when Smith marched from the audience onto the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and slapped presenter and comedian Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke about the shaved head of his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
“The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to” the Oscars, the Academy’s president, David Rubin, and its chief executive officer, Dawn Hudson, said in a statement provided to Efe.
The brief statement did not indicate if Smith, who minutes after the incident won the best-actor award for his starring role in “King Richard,” will remain eligible to receive Oscar nominations.
The Board opted for that penalty rather than take the more drastic step of stripping Smith of his Oscar award, the most prestigious of the many honors he has received throughout his career.
Another sanction on the table – Smith’s permanent expulsion from the Academy – was no longer an option after the actor voluntarily resigned from that organization of movie stars, directors and producers.
“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 read.
It also expressed “deep gratitude” to Rock for maintaining his composure on stage and thanked all of the ceremony’s hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during the telecast.
The incident occurred after Rock went on stage to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Film and made a joke about the shaved head of Pinkett Smith, who was sitting next to Smith and had recently announced publicly that she suffers from a hair-loss condition known as alopecia.
“Jada, I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock joked, referring to Demi Moore’s role as a shaved-headed woman who undergoes special operations training similar to the US Navy Seals in the 1997 Ridley Scott war-drama film “G.I. Jane.”
Smith initially laughed at the joke, but after seeing that his wife was annoyed he got out of his seat, walked on stage and slapped Rock in the face.
After returning to the audience, Smith loudly shouted to Rock: “Keep my wife’s name out your f___ing mouth.” The comment was censored on US television broadcasts but was heard loud and clear in other parts of the world.
Minutes later, Smith went on stage to receive his best-actor Oscar for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, and gave a minutes-long acceptance speech in which he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees for his behavior but did not initially apologize to Rock.
“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things,” he said on stage.
Smith has since apologized to Rock and said upon resigning from the Academy that his actions were “shocking, painful and inexcusable.”
After learning of the 10-year ban, Smith said in a statement: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”