Academy admits it screwed up but says Will Smith REFUSED to leave show and furious CEO yelled at actor's reps
The slap that was felt around the world continues to dominate headlines days after the 94th Academy Awards. On March 30, the organizers revealed that Will Smith was asked to leave the show, but he refused to following his outburst at Chris Rock. The surprise news leaves many questions, such as who would've taken the Oscar for Best Actor had Smith actually left?
Now being named 'slapgate', the incident has become a hotbed for conspiracy theorists, such as one that claims Rock was wearing face pads. Smith has since apologized for the incident, both at the awards ceremony and later on Instagram, but it doesn't appear to have done much for his popularity. There's now a campaign pressuring the Academy to take back the award Smith received, for his role in 'King Richard'.
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Days after slapgate, the Academy has finally spoken about it, revealing some truly surprising details. For the first time, we now have the complete picture of what exactly happened after Smith's slap, and the actor certainly doesn't look good based on the details.
Smith was asked to leave, refused
As we reported on March 28, behind the scenes, there was indeed a lot of drama. Shortly after the slap, Smith was comforted by Denzel Washington, Tyler Perry, and Bradley Cooper. Evan Nicole Kidman came over to hug the actor, while backstage, Rock was being comforted. Matt Belloni, the former editor of the Hollywood Reporter said that no one escorted Smith out, but it appears that wasn't for a lack of trying.
"While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently," the Academy said in a statement. Sources told TMZ that President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson personally got involved in a heated exchange backstage. Reportedly, the two were "furious" and yelled at Smith's reps, but it doesn't appear to have changed much.
40 minutes after slapgate, Smith went on stage to accept his Oscar for Best Actor, and in his acceptance speech did apologize to the Academy and the attendees, but notably not Rock. Till now, many people believed Smith wasn't asked to leave because he had won the award, but now it appears his win was not a priority for the Academy. "Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television," they added in their statement.
The revelation does itself raise even more questions, such as when the exchange between Rubin, Hudson, and Smith's reps occurred. There's also the question of how much pressure they applied, and at what point did they relent? Furthermore, the Academy has not said if they had a contingency plan if Smith had really left the venue. Who would've accepted his award?
The statement comes amidst a disciplinary hearing by the Academy into the incident. The actor has till March 18 to defend himself with a written response. Expulsion from the Academy, suspension, and all other types of sanctions are on the table the group revealed but crucially did not hint at whether that extended to revoking his Oscar. It's also unclear if Smith will face additional sanctions for not leaving the show when asked.