Possible sanctions against Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars last month will be discussed on Friday, 10 days earlier than previously scheduled, the body that oversees the awards said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brought forward its board meeting for procedural reasons after Smith resigned his membership from the group, meaning the “King Richard” actor’s removal from the group is no longer on the table.
A possible suspension or expulsion for Smith would have meant a mandated longer wait before discussions could begin, in order to give him time to submit a written statement defending his behavior.
With such a wait no longer necessary, it “is in the best interest of all involved for this to be handled in a timely fashion,” said Academy president David Rubin, in a letter to board members Wednesday.
Smith resigned from the Academy last Friday, five days after he assaulted comedian Rock during a live global broadcast.
The actor said his actions, which overshadowed Hollywood’s glitziest night of the year, were “shocking, painful and inexcusable”.
Attendees at the Dolby Theatre last month watched open-mouthed as Smith mounted the stage and slapped Rock across the face after the comic made a joke about his wife’s closely cropped hair.
Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out.
Half an hour after the astonishing attack, Smith was awarded the best actor Oscar for his role in sports biopic King Richard.
Smith – only the fifth Black man to win the movie world’s highest individual award for an actor – could have faced a rare expulsion from the Academy, but his resignation pre-empted that punishment.
“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate,” said Smith.
It is unclear what, if any, actions will be taken against Smith by the Academy.
Some have called for Smith to be stripped of his best actor Oscar.
Rock’s brother Kenny Rock told the Los Angeles Times that Smith “belittled [Chris Rock] in front of millions of people that watch the show”.
Stripping Smith’s award is considered unlikely, as the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski did not have their Oscars revoked in the wake of scandals.
Traditionally the best actor Oscar winner is invited to present the following year’s best actress award – an honor which could now be called into question.
“I’m hoping the Academy invites me back,” said Smith during his tearful acceptance speech at last month’s gala.