Culture

Sources Are Denying that The Academy Asked Will Smith to Leave the Oscars

On Thursday, sources reported that Oscars 2022 producer Will Packer and an Academy member asked Will Smith not to leave Sunday’s ceremony.

The Oscars 2022 rabbit hole has gotten deeper. Three sources at the Oscars have denied the report that Will Smith was asked to leave Sunday’s ceremony at the Dolby Theater after slapping presenter Chris Rock.

After Rock presented the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature to Summer of Soul, Academy officials convened backstage with Smith’s reps to discuss the mishap. Some in the conversation wanted Smith to be dismissed from the ceremony, while others didn’t, but the discussion never reached an agreement.

A source said that during one of the commercial breaks, Packer and an Academy member approached Smith and said “We do not want you to leave.” The discussion allegedly took place 35 minutes after the slap, shortly before Smith won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard.

On Monday, The Academy made a brief statement via Twitter, referencing the incident.

“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the statement read. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”

Rock declined to press charges towards Smith and briefly spoke about the incident for the first time during a comedy show in Boston on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, The New York Times initially reported that The Academy asked Smith to leave the ceremony after the slapping incident.

“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” The Academy said in a statement, also announcing that disciplinary proceedings against Smith were initiated. “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.”

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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