Actor Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars ceremony after he slapped comedian Chris Rock but he refused to do so, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which organises the event, said on Wednesday, reported the Associated Press.

In a statement, the Academy said it recognises that it could have handled the situation differently. “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the body added.

At Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony, Smith had smacked Rock for joking that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was apt for the next GI Jane movie a seeming reference to her tonsured head. She had shaved her head in 2021 following a diagnosis of alopecia, a condition that leads to hair loss.

A few minutes later as he accepted his historic Oscar, Smith tearfully apologised to the Academy, but he did not mention Rock. On Monday, he apologised to Rock, saying: “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

Though, many have questioned why the 53-year-old actor was allowed to remain seated in the front row at the Academy Awards after his outburst. Some social media users have even called for Smith to be stripped of his Oscar.

The Academy, in its Wednesday statement, announced that it has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violating the group’s standards of conduct, reported the BBC. These violations include inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behaviour and compromising the integrity of the Academy, the statement said.

The group said that disciplinary action against Smith could include suspension or expulsion from the membership of the Academy or other sanctions.

“Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy said. “Mr Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologise to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”

The Academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18.

‘Still processing’: Chris Rock

Meanwhile, Rock made his first public statement about the controversy at a stand-up comedy show in Boston on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

“How was your weekend?” Rock jokingly asked the crowd referring to Sunday’s incident. The comedian, however, made it clear that he did not wish to address the matter of his onstage assault at length.

“I’m still processing what happened,” Rock said, adding that he would talk about it some day. “It’ll be serious. It’ll be funny, but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.”

TickPick, an online marketplace for events, said it sold more tickets on Wednesday for Rock’s “Ego Death” tour than it did in the past month combined.

Balcony seat tickets that are sold for $61 (about Rs 4,626) fetched nearly $1,000 (around Rs 75,840).


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