Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed.
Smith in a statement released Friday afternoon said he would “fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable.”
Film academy president David Rubin said Smith’s resignation was accepted.
“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” he said.
Smith loses voting privileges with his resignation. But there are other, less tangible benefits to being part of the academy, Hollywood’s most prestigious organization: It bestows industry credibility on its members. It’s invitation only, with a once-a-year membership review.
“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work,” Smith’s statement said. “I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.
“Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,” Smith concluded in the statement.
The resignation came two days after the academy’s leadership board met to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of the group’s standards of conduct. Those proceedings could have resulted in suspension or expulsion, and it was not immediately clear what additional punishment he could face.
Had he been expelled, Smith would have joined a small group of men removed from the academy: Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and the actor Carmine Caridi, who was kicked out for sharing awards screeners.
On Sunday, Smith strode from his front-row Dolby Theatre seat onto the stage and slapped Rock, who had made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Moments later, he went on to win the best actor award for his role in King Richard.
Rock, who was about to present Oscar for best documentary, declined to file charges when asked by police.
The fallout was immediate and intense. Smith had supporters for coming to his wife’s defense, but he was widely condemned for responding with violence and for marring both his long-sought Oscar victory and overshadowing the night’s other winners.