Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after slapping Chris Rock, Academy says

The organisation behind the Academy Awards has launched disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith, who they say refused to leave the 2022 ceremony when asked after slapping Chris Rock and yelling expletives.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star could face "suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions" from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it said in a statement.

The announcement comes after widespread condemnation of the assault and how it was handled during the ceremony.

The Academy has also apologised to Rock.

"The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy," the statement said.

"Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently... things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated.

"Mr Smith's actions... were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologise to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."

Smith walked on-stage and struck Rock across the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. The actress, 50, suffers from the hair loss condition alopecia. As Smith sat back down, he bellowed twice to Rock: "Keep my wife's name out your f**king mouth."

A short time later, Smith cried as he accepted the Best Actor award for his lead role in King Richard. He expressed his regret to the Academy during his speech, but only apologised to Rock the next day in a written statement publicly released on his social media platforms.

The Academy said Smith will be given a chance to be heard before it decides on his punishment.

"Consistent with the Academy's Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr Smith is being provided at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response," the statement said.

"At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct."

According to the Hollywood ReporterAcademy decision-makers have said they think Smith should "at the very least" have his membership suspended, citing the Standards of Conduct imposed on disgraced director Harvey Weinstein eight weeks after his sexual misconduct was exposed.  

Weinstein, along with Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby, were expelled from the Academy in 2017 and 2018 for their alleged misconduct.

However, neither Weinstein nor Polanski had their Oscars revoked.