The Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences said Monday it was launching a “formal review” of the shocking moment when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars.
Smith — who went on to win the best actor award — marched onto stage during a show broadcast live around the world and hit Rock over a joke about the star´s wife, in an incident that overshadowed the glitzy ceremony.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night´s show,” the Academy said in a statement.
“We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Celebrities from Tinseltown and beyond reacted with shock and stunned amazement to Smith´s outburst, with some defending him and others condemning a display of “toxic masculinity.”
The 94th Academy Awards was in its final hour when actor and comedian Rock made a joke about Smith´s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, starring in “G.I. Jane 2” — apparently poking fun at her shaved head.
Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, didn´t laugh, and her 53-year-old husband stormed onstage, smacking Rock with an open hand before returning to his seat.
Smith tearfully apologized to his fellow nominees and the Academy — but not Rock — a few minutes later as he accepted the Oscar for best actor for “King Richard.”
“Love will make you do crazy things,” he said.
The stunned expressions of celebrities in the room — such as Lupita Nyong´o, who was sitting nearby — became instant meme fodder, while outside the auditorium stars immediately weighed in to condemn Smith.
“He could have killed him. That´s pure out of control rage and violence,” filmmaker Judd Apatow said in a tweet he later deleted.
“Spinal Tap” director Rob Reiner dismissed Smith´s apology, calling for the star to show remorse to Rock personally.
“Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much,” “Star Wars” icon Mark Hamill chipped in.