The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not ask Will Smith to leave after he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, despite claiming that the actor didn’t comply with requests to go, according to a new report.
The Academy released a statement Wednesday to “clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused” — but sources claim the organization never attempted to give the “King Richard” actor the boot, TMZ reported.
In fact, show producer Will Packer told Smith he could stay, TMZ reported, citing sources with direct knowledge who attended the show. Some Oscars officials did want the actor to leave, but the group never came to a consensus.
Sources previously told TMZ that Smith was asked to leave by two Academy head honchos, its president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
Rubin and Hudson were reportedly “furious” and “apoplectic” at Smith, and the two bigwigs got into a screaming match backstage with the actor’s reps over the assault.
Smith stormed the Oscars stage Sunday night and smacked Rock before returning to his seat to scream at the comedian, who had made a crack about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth,” Smith twice screamed at Rock about Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia.
Not long after the primetime meltdown seen ’round the world, Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in “King Richard” and got a standing ovation from the shocked audience.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy said Wednesday in a statement. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
Smith is facing disciplinary action from the Academy that could include expulsion, suspension or other sanctions.