Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars ceremony Sunday night after the actor slapped Chris Rock onstage, but he refused to do so, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a new statement Wednesday.
In a statement provided to multiple outlets, including the Hollywood Reporter, the Academy said its board of governors had officially started "disciplinary proceedings" against Smith for violations of its standards of conduct, including "inappropriate physical conduct, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy."
During the Academy Awards ceremony, Smith got onstage and slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's baldness. Pinkett Smith has publicly spoken about having alopecia. He then went on to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Serena and Venus Williams' father in the biopic King Richard, giving a tearful acceptance speech in which he described his desire to protect others.
Smith's actions and the Academy's failure to remove him have drawn widespread criticism and sparked a debate over who was in the wrong and what to do about it.
On Wednesday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wanda Sykes, who cohosted the Oscars with Regina Hall and Amy Schumer, said she thought it was "gross" that Smith was allowed to stay for the rest of the show and accept his award.
"This is just the wrong message," said Sykes, who told DeGeneres she was still traumatized by the incident. "You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building, and that's it."
The Academy's statement said the actor would have an opportunity to provide a written response before the board makes a decision about whether to take any disciplinary action against him, such as suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions. The Academy described his actions as "a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television" and apologized to Rock, those in attendance, and viewers for what happened.
"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the statement said. "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."
Representatives for Smith did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. The Academy did not answer questions seeking more information about how the request to leave was relayed to him.
On Monday, the actor described his actions as "unacceptable and inexcusable" and publicly apologized to Rock after failing to do so in his acceptance speech shortly after the incident.
"I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us," he said. "I am a work in progress."
On Wednesday night, Rock told the crowd at his stand-up comedy show in Boston that he was "still processing what happened," according to reporters in the audience. He said he wasn't prepared to address the slap as part of his set, but added, "At some point I'll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny," Variety reported.
The Los Angeles Police Department said the comedian declined to file a police report; however, legal experts have said authorities could still investigate and pursue charges.
After the Oscars, Sykes told DeGeneres, Rock came up to her to apologize, saying, "It was supposed to be your night. You and Amy and Regina, y'all were doing such a great job. I'm so sorry this is now going to be about this."