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Academy condemns Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock at Oscars, opens 'formal review'

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it will look into potential consequences after Smith hit Rock on stage Sunday.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned actor Will Smith for slapping comedian Chris Rock during Sunday's Oscars broadcast, saying that it's reviewing the matter.

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show," the Academy said in a statement on Monday.

"We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law."

Smith, who went on to win his first Oscar for best actor later in the night, responded to a joke regarding his wife by getting on stage and hitting Rock. During the award presentation for best documentary feature, Rock said he was excited for Jada Pinkett Smith to star in "G.I. Jane 2," referring to her shaved head.

In 2018, Pinkett Smith revealed she was diagnosed with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.

94th Academy Awards - Show
Chris Rock and Will Smith onstage during the show Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

About half an hour after the incident, Smith took the stage to accept his award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis pros Venus and Serena, in “King Richard.“

The actor attempted to justify his actions during his Oscar speech, connecting himself to what he described as the real-life Williams father’s defense of his family.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," he said. "Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams."

He apologized to his fellow nominees and the Academy, but did not address Rock. 

Rock kept his composure following the incident at the Dolby Theatre, joking that it was the "greatest night in the history of television."

He declined to press charges, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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The Academy said it will now look at potential consequences. It's unclear what type of punishment the organization may impose on Smith.

The Academy voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in 2018, citing a violation of its code of conduct.

Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 but released following an appeal last year.

Polanski has remained a fugitive for over 40 years after pleading guilty in 1978 for raping a 13-year-old girl. He fled prior to sentencing, though he said believed he had a plea agreement for time served after spending 42 days in jail. Polanski won Best Director in 2003 for "The Pianist."