The backlash over Will Smith’s assault of Chris Rock is still making headlines five days after it took place on live television during the Oscars. Now, the King Richard actor has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
According to Variety, the organization behind the Academy Awards has struggled in its attempts to deal with the fallout from the altercation. In a statement, Smith called his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable” and said he’ll accept any additional consequences that the Academy’s Board of Governors deems appropriate.
“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,” Smith said in the statement. “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.”
Smith also acknowledged how his actions overshadowed everything else during the 94th Academy Awards.
“I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he stated. “With change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Academy president David Rubin replied to Smith’s resignation, stating, according to Variety, “We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”
Just before presenting the award for the documentary feature category, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Rock’s joke was in reference to Jada’s close-shaved head, a possible result of her recent struggles with the hair condition alopecia.
G.I. Jane was a 1997 starring Demi Moore who played a character that shaved her hair off during a vigorous U.S. Navy program. The popular film tackled sexism in the military.
After the joke, Smith, 53, walked on stage and slapped Rock. He returned to his seat and shouted at the 57-year-old to “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.” Within the hour, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams in King Richard. During his acceptance speech, Smith did not specifically apologize to Rock. The incident reverberated across every corner of the internet, with many debating whether or not Smith was justified in his retaliation.