Actor Will Smith holds his award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for "King Richard" as he attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Os...

Academy exploring consequences for Will Smith after refusing to leave Oscars

NEW YORK (AP) — The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Wednesday said that Will Smith was asked to leave to Sunday’s Oscar ceremony after hitting Chris Rock but refused to do so.

The academy’s board of governors met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct. The academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

Many have focused on why Smith was allowed to remain seated front row at the Academy Awards after the incident. On Wednesday, the academy suggested that it attempted to remove the actor from the audience.

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“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the academy said. “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.”

A representative for the academy declined to give specifics on how it tried to removed Smith. After Smith struck Rock in response to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, several stars including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry spoke with the 53-year-old Smith.

The academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18. The film academy earlier condemned Smith’s onstage assault of Rock, but it used stronger language Wednesday.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy said. “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.”

On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, the academy and to viewers, saying “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

A representative for Smith didn’t immediately respond to messages Wednesday regarding the academy’s latest moves.