Will Smith risks being stripped of Oscar after Chris Rock slap

A formal investigation has been launched following the shocking moment Will Smith stormed onto the Oscars stage and slapped Chris Rock on live TV.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is responsible for the annual awards night, has said it is looking into ‘further action’, although it remains unclear exactly what that could entail.

Chris Rock slapped by Will Smith at oscars
Will Smith approached presenter Chris Rock on stage and smacked him after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife's alopecia. Photo: Getty

In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson said, "The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show."

"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."

Those standards of conduct include a line stating that the Academy is "categorically opposed to any form of abuse."

During the live ceremony, Smith was also heard hurling verbal abuse at Rock when he returned to his seat after smacking the comedian following a joke Rock made about Smith’s wife’s hair loss.


"Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!" Smith yelled twice. Viewers in the US had their audio cut from the broadcast after Smith left the stage, but the broadcast continued uncensored in Australia where the entire incident played out on live TV.

'Inexcusable' Will Smith apologises on Instagram

In a statement issued on Instagram the following day, Smith apologised to Rock, describing his behaviour as "inexcusable".

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he said, "My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable."

"Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.

"I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. 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."

The actor went on to apologise to the Academy, the public, the King Richard team and the Williams family - who the film is about - saying he "deeply regrets" his behaviour and describing himself as "a work in progress".

Ceremony did not stop

According to a CNN source, discussions were held about what to do in the immediate aftermath of the slapping incident, however no action was taken and the ceremony continued as scheduled.

"The Academy decision makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theatre and couldn't mobilise to make a decision before he won Best Actor," the source said.

Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will smith with kids Willow, Jaden and Trey at the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty
Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith attended the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty after the ceremony with their kids Willow, Jaden and Trey. Photo: Getty

When Smith was later called on stage to accept the award for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, he used his speech to issue a teary apology for his actions.

Although he said, "I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees," he did not mention Rock by name.

He also attempted to justify his actions by saying, "Love will make you do crazy things."

Police will not get involved

Following the ceremony, the Los Angeles Police Department said it is aware of the incident but that it won’t be taking any action at this stage as "the individual involved has declined to file a police report."

“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” it added in a statement.

According to TMZ, Rock and Smith have not yet spoken to each other about what happened.

Will smith winning best actor
Smith apologised to his peers during his Oscars acceptance speech but didn't specifically apologise to Rock. Photo: Getty

Later that night, Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith attended the Vanity Fair after party alongside their three kids Willow, Jaden, and Trey.

Video from inside the party shows the actor holding his Oscar and dancing as the DJ plays Smith’s 1997 song, Gettin’ Jiggy With It.

Fans shocked

The reaction to the slapping incident on social media has been very divisive with many people condemning Smith's violent response and calling for him to be stripped of his award, while others have come to his defence.

The joke that prompted the reaction made fun of Jada Pinkett-Smith's alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss.

Rock said, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," in reference to the 1997 film about a female soldier with a shaved head.

Pinkett-Smith has been vocal about her struggle with a form of alopecia since she made her diagnosis public in 2018.

A source has claimed to TMZ that Rock was unaware of this condition, although the comedian has yet to speak about what happened.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at the oscars
Jada Pinkett-Smith has alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss. Photo: REUTERS

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