Calls for Will Smith to return his Oscar after 10-year ban for Chris Rock slap

A fellow actor has described Smith’s actions as a ‘stain’ on the Motion Picture Academy that ‘could not be easily remediated.’

There are growing calls for Will Smith to return his Best Actor Oscar in the wake of a 10-year ban after his controversial attack on Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony.

Smith has been handed a 10-year ban from attending any Academy Award ceremonies and events after shocking the Oscars audience – and the world – with his reaction to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Chris Rock had joked about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, likening the look to Demi Moore’s bald-headed look in the 1997 film G.I. Jane.

Rock’s brother Kenny later said the comedian had no idea Pinkett Smith had alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss.

Smith resigned from the Motion Picture Academy after the controversial incident, and the 10-year ban was announced on April 9.

But now there are louder calls from some members of the Academy for the disgraced actor to return the award he won for King Richard, in which he played the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Veteran screen and stage actor Harry Lennix, who is a member of the Academy, said the 10-year ban was “a toothless penalty”.

In an opinion piece written for Variety on the weekend, he described the ban as “an extended time out for a playground bully”, one which “lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood’s morals”.

The Matrix and Five Heartbeats actor said it was “galling” to see the audience give Smith a standing ovation as he tearfully accepted his Best Actor award not long after “the slap”.

“Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige,” Lennix, 57, wrote.

“That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes.”

Lennix went on to describe the violent moment as “such a jolt to societal norms that it will gnaw away at our national conscience until somehow properly atoned for”.

He said the incident was a “stain” on the Motion Picture Academy which could not be “easily remediated”.

According to the NY Post, Academy members were divided on whether Smith should return his trophy.

Some noted that honorees who had committed more serious crimes – such as Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski – had been allowed to hold onto their Oscars.

Others argued that the moment of violence and the recognition of Smith’s excellence in a film role were two separate things.

Smith has apologized for the incident and acknowledged the 10-year ban.

After the Oscars, the actor posted a long message on Instagram.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” he wrote.

“My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.

“Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith)

He went on to say he was “out of line” and was embarrassed by his actions.

“There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” he wrote.

“I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”

Chris Rock has declined to press charges over the on-stage assault.