Will Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday, as he faced a possible suspension or expulsion from the organization after striking comic/awards presenter Chris Rock during the Oscars last weekend.
As the New York Post and various wire services reported on Friday night, the actor, fresh off a best-actor Oscar win for his role as the tennis-playing Williams’ sisters’ father in “King Richard,” issued a statement about his resignation. In it, he said he would accept any consequences imposed by the Academy’s Board of Governors.
The statement, obtained by Variety, said, “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.”
“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”
Well before his award was presented, Smith went on stage and struck Rock in response to a joke the comic had made about the close-cropped hair of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. As it turns out, she suffers from alopecia, a chronic condition that can cause hair loss, although Rock reportedly did not know of the medical situation when he delivered his quip.
After hitting Rock, Smith emphatically warned Rock not to talk about his wife, according to footage from the Oscars that made the air in Europe.
Smith has apologized for his action, which some sources said triggered a call for his expulsion from the Oscars. But he didn’t leave, and went on to accept his award with a highly emotional speech.
For his part, Rock, who has resumed his time on the comedy circuit, has said he is still processing what occurred and would likely address it at a later time.
Some critics of Smith’s violent response to the joke have called for his award to be rescinded, although that is said to be an unlikely outcome.