The Academy has claimed that Will Smith refused to leave the Dolby Theatre after slapping Chris Rock during the Oscars on Sunday.
Officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, released a statement on Wednesday in which they claimed the “King Richard” actor was asked to leave the auditorium after he slapped Oscars presenter Chris Rock onstage during the ceremony, but he refused.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. 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,” their statement reads, reports The Associated Press.
They also praised Chris Rock for how he handled the situation, which took place after he made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the statement continued.
“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.”
The Academy also announced that its Board of Governors has begun the process of disciplining Will Smith for “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
The 53-year-old has been given the notice to write to the board before its next meeting on April 18th, when they will decide whether to suspend, expel, or make other sanctions against the actor.