This Wednesday, the Academy claimed they asked Will Smith to leave the Dolby Theater after he walked up on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock. But according to sources speaking to TMZ, the Academy is lying.
The sources say Academy officials were split on the idea of booting Smith and discussed it during a commercial break, but never reached a decision.
“We’re told Will was aware there was talk about asking him to leave the theater. During one of the commercial breaks, we’re told Oscars producer Will Packer walked up to Will and said, ‘We do not want you to leave’ … this according to our sources,” TMZ reports. “Will Packer walked up to Will Smith just after 8 PM, around 35 minutes after the slap. That’s when he told Will he could stay, according to our sources. Will won the Best Actor Award around 5 minutes later.”
The 94th Academy Awards was in its final hour when actor and comedian Rock made a joke on stage 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 — as he accepted the Oscar for best actor for “King Richard.”
“Love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He revealed that Denzel Washington had told him after the incident: “At your highest, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
In a statement released after the incident, the academy said: “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. 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.”
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy added. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
But according to sources who spoke to TMZ, “Will Smith was NEVER asked to leave the Oscars after he slapped Chris Rock,” the publication reported.