Apparently, the Academy didn’t ask Will Smith to leave the premises after the infamous Chris Rock slap on stage at the 2022 Oscars ceremony.
If you’ve been around the internet for the past couple of days, I'm sure you're well aware of what went down – so without going too into detail, after Chris Rock made a crass, unscripted joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, Will got heated and stormed the stage to tell (and show) Chris to "get my wife's name out of your fucking mouth."
After a couple of uncomfortable moments in a stunned, silent audience, the show resumed business as usual.
Days later, on March 30, after a few apologies from Will's camp, The Academy publicly denounced the actor's actions and said that as a consequence, he was asked to leave the premises after what happened.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy’s statement said. “While we could like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to lave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
However, TMZ reports that this statement isn't entirely accurate and sources close to the matter confirmed that Smith was never actually asked to leave — rather, he was apparently told by the show’s producer that he could stay.
Apparently, the decision for him to leave was split, with some of the show’s officials asking for his removal, while others didn’t see the need. Though various discussions happened through the commercial breaks immediately following the slap, a definitive decision was never reached and Will was never told to exit.
If Will left, his memorable acceptance speech for winning his first-ever Academy Award wouldn’t have happened. With tears in his eyes, he took the stage and accepted the award for Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard.
“I know, to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse,” he said. “You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
Chris hasn’t released an official statement about what happened, but in a recent show at Boston’s Wilbur Theater, he said that he’s "still kind of processing what happened."
Photo via Getty/ Neilson Barnard