The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday banned Will Smith from the Oscars and any other organization events for 10 years because of his slap in the face of Chris Rock during its awards ceremony last month.
The move was announced following a meeting of the academy’s Board of Governors to review its response to Smith’s actions. It is unclear if the ban would apply to future nominations.
“The 94th Academy Awards was supposed to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who have done incredible work over the past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw from Mr. Smith on stage,” the academy said in a statement.
“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in response. The actor preemptively resigned from the academy last week in the run-up to the meeting, calling his own actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable.”
The academy also apologized for the way it handled the situation by allowing Smith to remain at the ceremony and receive his best actor award for his role in “King Richard.”
“During our broadcast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. We apologize for that,” the academy said. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, the public and our Academy family around the world, and we let them down by not being prepared for something unprecedented.”
In a statement in the days following the Oscars, the academy said Smith was asked to leave the venue, but the actor refused to do so.
It’s unclear how Smith got that message, and multiple media outlets reported that he was never formally told to leave the Dolby Theater. The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Oscars producer Will Packer told Smith: “Officially, we don’t want you to go, we want you to stay.”
The veto means Smith will not be around to present one of the biggest awards at next year’s Oscars, as is the tradition with best actor honorees.
In its statement Friday, the academy also expressed its “profound gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances.”
It does not say whether Smith will be eligible for an Oscar nomination during his decade-long suspension, nor does it say whether he took action to revoke his award.
The academy has not taken the Oscar away from expelled members Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski.
With his resignation last week, Smith lost the chance to vote for the nominees and winners.
At the Academy Awards on March 27, Rock was presenting the Oscar for best documentary when he made jokes about several attendees, including Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2,’ I can’t wait to see it,” Rock told the actress.
Pinkett Smith, who has spoken publicly about her hair loss condition, alopecia, had her head shaved similarly to Demi Moore in the 1997 movie “GI Jane.”
Smith got up from his front row seat, went onstage and punched Rock, shocking the comedian, the audience at the theater and viewers at home.
Many thought this was a prank planned by the producers or the comedians themselves, but the seriousness of the situation became clear when Smith returned to his seat and angrily yelled at Rock twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of here!” from your (expletive) mouth!”
Rock said he had no interest in filing a complaint when questioned by police behind the scenes.
Smith returned to the stage less than an hour later to accept his Oscar, tearfully apologizing to the academy but notably omitting any mention of Rock. He compared himself to Richard Williams, the man he played in “King Richard,” whom he called “a fierce defender of his family.”
Later that night, Smith danced with her trophy and her family and rapped her own songs to celebrate her win at the Vanity Fair Oscar after-party.
Rock has publicly addressed the attack very briefly: At a comedy show this week in Boston, he said he was still “processing what happened.”
Andrew Dalton is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton.