Could Will Smith have his Oscar revoked after Chris Rock slap?

Will Smith with his Oscar for King Richard. Credit: PA

Will Smith could face disciplinary action after he slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday.

Less than hour after hitting Rock over a joke the comedian made about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head, Smith accepted the best actor for his role in King Richard where he played the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences board of governors met on Wednesday to launch disciplinary procedures against Smith for violations of the group’s standards of conduct.

But what does this mean for Smith and could he have his award revoked?

Will Smith shocked audiences around the world after he slapped Chris Rock for a joke he made about his wife's hair. Credit: PA

What action has the academy taken?

The academy says it asked Smith to leave the Dolby Theatre after the slap - but the actor refused.

Now they are meeting to discuss disciplinary action against him following the incident. The academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18.

What repercussions could Smith face?

The academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

The Los Angeles Police Department said on Sunday it was aware of what happened but was not pursuing an investigation because the person involved declined to file a police report.

Could Will Smith be stripped of his gong and has it happened before?

Perhaps, although no actor has ever been stripped of their Oscar before. Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the Academy’s board of governors, said on Monday on US TV show, The View: “We’re not going to take that Oscar from him.” 

The academy has only ever revoked one Oscar, and that was due to a technicality. Documentary Young Americans won best documentary in 1969 but the film was actually released in 1967 - a year too early for it to be eligible.

Will Smith with his sons Trey Smith and Jaden Smith, daughter Willow Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Credit: Doug Peters/PA

What has the academy said?

The film academy had earlier condemned Smith's onstage assault of Rock, but it used stronger language in a statement on Wednesday.

"Mr Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television," the academy said. "Mr. Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologise to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."

In 2017 the Academy released an updated code of conduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson, wrote to members at the time: “There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power, or influence in a manner that violates recognised standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment, or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”

Chris Rock reacts after being hit by Will Smith. Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

What repercussions have other award winners faced?

Very few. Woody Allan and director Roman Polanski, both accused of sexual abuse by women under the legal age of consent, were, in fact, honoured after the allegations came to light.

But Roman Polanski, along with a small number of academy members, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and the actor Carmine Caridi, was expelled from the academy.

Even Oscars won by expelled members have not previously been ordered to be returned.

What has Will Smith said?

During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith talked about defending his family and apologised to the academy.

A day later, Smith issued an apology to Rock, to the academy and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”

His wife, Pinkett Smith, responded on Tuesday with a graphic on Instagram that read: “This is a season of healing and I’m here for it.” She offered no further comment.

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