Will Smith Resigns From Academy, May Suffer More Repercussions For Slap

Will Smith Resigns From Academy,  May Suffer More Repercussions For Slap

The slap heard round the world is still reverberating in the filmosphere, with a repentant Will Smith expressing his regrets for what he called his “shocking, painful, and inexcusable” behavior at last week’s Academy Award ceremonies. Though he resigned from the Academy a few days later, it is not yet possible to predict the long-term fallout for the actor.

Smith’s assault on Chris Rock was arguably the most controversial Oscar-night brouhaha since 1973, when Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather took to the stage to announce Marlon Brando would be declining his trophy to protest the treatment of indigenous peoples by the film industry. It was later reported that an infuriated John Wayne had to be physically restrained from storming the stage as a counter-protest to Brando’s stance, which had been motivated by the recent assaults at Wounded Knee.

Facing near-certain expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Smith voluntarily resigned after last Sunday’s incident, writing in part: “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. 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. 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,” he continued, concluding that “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

Despite Smith’s voluntary resignation, the Academy is still contemplating disciplinary action at its upcoming board meeting on April 18, replied president David Rubin. There seems to be some controversy over the Academy’s initial response, however, with differing opinions as to whether Smith was or was not asked to leave the ceremony immediately after the altercation. Shortly afterwards, in accepting his Oscar for his role in King Richard, Smith did not directly apologize to Rock for slapping him.

While the industry is still processing the long-term consequences of Smith’s behavior, it seems like he will face a thorny road in reestablishing his reputation. Even before the incident, director David Leitch withdrew from Netflix’s “Fast and Loose,” which was to have starred Smith. Netflix has reportedly put the project on the back burner for now, with speculation it may want to jettison Smith altogether. 

Smith also has Apple+’s slave drama “Emancipation” in post-production. The streamer had planned a 2022 debut but has not dated its release. Otherwise, “Bad Boys 4” at Sony had been in active development before the Oscar, Smith received 40 pages of the script prior to the Oscars but will now pause, a source said. 

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