The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it will formally review Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith … We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law,” the statement released on Monday said.
On Sunday night, while comedian Chris Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary, he made a joke about actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, saying he was excited for her to star in a G.I. Jane movie. (Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia, a hair loss condition.)
At first, Pinkett’s husband, Will Smith, who was seated next to her, laughed at Rock’s joke, but a few seconds later, he made his way to the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Smith then yelled twice, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” according to international broadcasts. (The audio of the US broadcast cut out after the slap.)
Though the Academy said it would be reviewing any violations of California law, the matter is so far not a criminal one. Rock has declined to file a police report against Smith, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed with BuzzFeed News.
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” police said in a statement.
But the incident may violate the Academy’s standards of conduct, leading one source to wonder to the New York Post if the Oscar that Smith won for Best Actor later in the night on Sunday could be taken away.
In 2017, the Academy released new standards of conduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement and revelations that producer Harvey Weinstein had raped and sexually assaulted women for years.
“There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” the standards of conduct said, according to Variety. “The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”
Weinstein was kicked out of the Academy in 2017, only the second person to ever have been expelled.
That leaves a range of conduct by Academy Award winners that hasn’t resulted in discipline. The Academy awarded Roman Polanski, who fled the US in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with an underage girl, the Oscar for Best Director in 2003. Polanski would have faced arrest had he traveled to the ceremony, and presenter Harrison Ford said the Academy congratulated him and accepted it on his behalf.
In 1973, actor and activist Sacheen Littlefeather accepted Marlon Brando’s Oscar and gave an acceptance speech in which she spoke about the poor treatment of Native Americans. She was met with boos and later said actor John Wayne had attempted to storm the stage, but security restrained him.
During Smith’s acceptance speech for Best Actor on Sunday, after the slap, he tearfully told the audience that he was driven by a desire to protect others. He did not apologize directly to Rock.
“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said in his speech.
“Thank you, I hope the Academy invites me back. Thank you.”
On Monday, in a statement posted to Instagram, he apologized personally to Rock for the first time.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”