Will Smith was never asked to leave the Oscars following Sunday’s slap, a new report claims, as Academy Governor Whoopi Goldberg says bosses were too scared to physically remove the star over fears he was ‘manic’ and would cause an on-camera scene.
On Thursday, conflicting accounts emerged of Sunday night’s drama. Sources close to the star told TMZ that Oscars producer Will Packer had directly approached Smith and told him ‘We do not want you to leave,’ after he slapped host Chris Rock for joking about Smith’s wife Jada.
But an official Academy statement claimed that Smith had in fact been asked to leave. And speaking on The View Thursday morning, Goldberg said she knew why no attempt had been made to forcibly remove Smith over the attack.
Goldberg said Academy bosses feared Smith was having a ‘manic’ episode and feared that any attempts to forcibly remove him could have resulted in an on-camera struggle.
But according to TMZ, Oscars producer Packer told Smith he could remain at around 8pm, about 35 minutes after the slap and just five minutes before the actor won his first Academy Award for his role in King Richard.
Unnamed sources have claimed that Will Smith was never asked to leave the Oscars after slapping presenter Chris Rock at Sunday’s ceremony
Whoopi Goldberg insisted that Smith was asked to leave, but that there were fears he was ‘manic’ and would make a scene if security tried to escort him out
However, Goldberg insisted that Smith was asked to leave, but that there were fears he was ‘manic’ and would make a scene if security tried to physically escort him out.
‘I think he was asked to leave,’ said Goldberg. ‘Picture — they come back from back from break, now if [Smith] is in some sort of state and he’s struggling and you’re trying to get him out the door and he’s still on camera.’
She added that Oscar producers and organizers even considered the possibility that Smith was having ‘a manic moment, because that’s not what he’s known for, smacking people and stuff.’
Goldberg was not present at the Oscars and stressed that she was not speaking on behalf of the Academy’s board of directors.
‘I can’t imagine what was going on back there, but I do know that the only person anybody should be focusing on is Will Smith,’ she said.
It is possible that the Academy leadership and Packer, the show’s producer, delivered conflicting messages about whether Smith could remain for the ceremony.
The Academy said in a statement on Wednesday that Smith ignored a request from the body’s president, David Rubin, and CEO, Dawn Hudson, to leave, and that he had violated their code of conduct.
Sources tell TMZ that Oscars producer Will Packer (above) actually walked up to the actor and told him: ‘We don’t want you to leave’
But the Academy said that Smith ignored a request to leave the ceremony from president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, seen together above
The 53-year-old actor marched onto the stage on Sunday and hit Rock, after Rock told a joke about Smith’s wife.
Shortly after, Smith was announced as the winner of the best actor award and went up to collect his statuette to a standing ovation from many of his peers.
The Academy’s statement in full
The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.
Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.
Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. 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.
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.
On Wednesday the Academy said it had launched ‘disciplinary procedures’ against Smith, and confirmed he ignored their request for him to leave his seat. They also apologized to Rock.
Smith was asked to leave by David Rubin, the president of the Academy, and CEO Dawn Hudson, TMZ reported.
Two sources told the site Rubin and Hudson were ‘furious’ at Smith, and there was plenty of ‘yelling’ and ‘heated conversations’ backstage with his reps after the incident.
One source said the Academy officials were ‘apoplectic.’
‘The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,’ their statement said.
‘Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.’
Smith will receive 15 days notice of a vote as well as an opportunity to be heard by written response.
At the next board meeting – scheduled for April 18 – the Academy may take action that could include ‘suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.’
In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – whose members vote for the awards, and who stages the ceremony – but stopped short of apologizing to Rock.
Smith initially laughed off the attack, writing on Instagram on Sunday evening: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!’
Yet as the gravity of the situation became clear, Smith then posted a public apology to Instagram 24 hours after the ceremony, saying he wanted to say sorry formally to Rock.
He said his behavior was ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’ and left him ’embarrassed’.
‘I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,’ he wrote.
‘I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.
‘There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.’
Rock looked downbeat amid the drama, which overshadowed the Oscars and deeply divided Hollywood. Smith apologized to him on Monday night, but Rock is yet to respond
Chris Rock leaves Wilbur Theater in Boston after performing two shows Wednesday night. The uninhibited comedian remained uncharacteristically tight-lipped about being slapped by Will Smith during Sunday’s Academy Awards show
Rock on Wednesday night told an audience at his sold-out comedy show in Boston that he was ‘still processing’ being slapped on stage by Smith at the Oscars, in his first public response to Sunday’s shocking incident.
Dressed all in white, Rock, 57, took to the stage at the Wilbur Theater and asked the excited crowd: ‘Sooooo, how was your weekend?!’
With the crowd all handing over their cell phones before the show began, the former Saturday Night Live star was greeted with a long standing ovation in the first of two sets he performed Wednesday as part for his Ego Death Tour.
However, the usually-uninhibited funnyman quickly shut down any hopes he would crack jokes about the slap heard round the world to the 3,000 fans in the audience, some of whom reportedly paid nearly $1,000 for a ticket.
‘Let me be all misty and s***,’ he said, with tears in his eyes.
‘I don’t have a bunch of s*** to say about that, so if you came here for that…’ he said, and paused.
‘I had written a whole show before this weekend.
‘I’m still processing what happened, so at some point I’ll talk about that s***. It’ll be serious. It’ll be funny, but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.’
Rock skirted the subject again in his second set but seemingly confirmed that he has not spoken with Smith since being smacked in the jaw on live television.
‘I haven’t talked to anyone, despite what you heard,’ Rock said.