BAFTA says Will Smith would’ve been removed for Chris Rock slap

As the fallout from Best Actor winner Will Smith’s shocking slap of Chris Rock on stage at the 2022 Oscars continues – with academy members debating what kind of punishment Smith should receive – at least one high-profile awards group has said they would have removed Smith from the ceremony after his act of violence.

“They would be removed from the ceremony,” Sara Putt, chair of BAFTA’s television committee and deputy chair of BAFTA, told The Hollywood Reporter when asked this week about the incident. According to Putt, if Smith – or anyone else – had physically confronted a presenter, that person would not be allowed to accept an award later in the ceremony, as Smith did during Sunday’s Oscars broadcast.

In the same interview, BAFTA’s executive director of awards and content, Emma Baehr, added, “We do not tolerate violence of any kind. It’s just a complete red line for us.”

In the aftermath of Smith’s altercation with Rock, which came after Rock mocked Jada Pinkett Smith for her appearance (the actress, who is Will Smith’s wife, has alopecia and shaves her head), the academy released a statement condemning the violence. The group later issued a more forceful statement to its membership.

“Sunday’s telecast of the 94th Oscars was meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year. We are upset and outraged that those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior on stage by a nominee,” academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in an email to members obtained by Variety. “The academy’s board of governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith.”

Smith won Best Actor on Sunday night after the incident, apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees (though not Rock), and received a broad ovation from the crowd. He was later photographed celebrating his victory at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Late Monday afternoon, however, Smith released an apology that mentioned Rock by name.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith wrote. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

He added, “I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my ‘King Richard’ Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”

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