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‘I’m still processing what happened’: Chris Rock speaks out for the first time


Chris Rock on Wednesday night told an audience at his sold-out comedy show in Boston that he was ‘still processing’ being slapped on stage by Will Smith at the Oscars, in his first public response to Sunday’s shocking incident.  

Dressed all in white, Rock, 57, took to the stage at the Wilbur Theatre and asked the excited crowd: ‘Sooooo, how was your weekend?!?’

The South Carolina-born comedian was greeted with a long standing ovation as he took to the stage, and thanked the crowd for their support. 

‘Let me be all misty and s***,’ he said, with tears in his eyes.

‘I don’t have a bunch of s*** to say about that, so if you came here for that…’ he said, and paused.

‘I had written a whole show before this weekend. 

‘I’m still processing what happened, so at some point I’ll talk about that s***. It’ll be serious. It’ll be funny, but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.’

He spoke shortly after it emerged that Smith was asked to leave the Oscars after hitting Rock but refused.

The Academy said on Wednesday he ignored the request from the president, David Rubin, and CEO, Dawn Hudson, to leave, and that he had violated their code of conduct.

The 53-year-old actor marched onto the stage on Sunday and hit Rock, after Rock told a joke about Smith’s wife.

Shortly after, Smith was announced as the winner of the best actor award and went up to collect his statuette to a standing ovation from many of his peers.

Chris Rock is pictured on Wednesday evening arriving at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston ahead of his sold-out show

Chris Rock is pictured on Wednesday evening arriving at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston ahead of his sold-out show

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars Sunday after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The Academy revealed on Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave, but refused

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars Sunday after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The Academy revealed on Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave, but refused

Rock looked downbeat amid the drama, which overshadowed the Oscars and deeply divided Hollywood. Smith apologized to him on Monday night, but Rock is yet to respond

Rock looked downbeat amid the drama, which overshadowed the Oscars and deeply divided Hollywood. Smith apologized to him on Monday night, but Rock is yet to respond

The 57-year-old did not say anything to the waiting reporters as he arrived at the venue

The 57-year-old did not say anything to the waiting reporters as he arrived at the venue

Many expressed support for the South Carolina-born comedian, saying that Smith was out of order when he marched onto stage and hit Rock for joking about his wife's alopecia

Many expressed support for the South Carolina-born comedian, saying that Smith was out of order when he marched onto stage and hit Rock for joking about his wife’s alopecia

Others have condemned Rock for joking about Jada Pinkett Smith's condition, which is when the autoimmune system attacks the scalp and causes hair loss

Others have condemned Rock for joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s condition, which is when the autoimmune system attacks the scalp and causes hair loss

Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy, asked Smith to leave but he refused

David Rubin, the president, joined Hudson to request the actor exit the theatre, but Smith ignored them

Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the Academy, asked Smith to leave, along with David Rubin, the president. Smith ignored them

Shortly after the slap, Will added a comment to his own Instagram post, quipping: 'You can't invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere'

Shortly after the slap, Will added a comment to his own Instagram post, quipping: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere’

The Academy’s statement in full 

The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.

Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. 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.

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.

On Wednesday the Academy said it had launched ‘disciplinary procedures’ against Smith, and confirmed he ignored their request for him to leave his seat. They also apologized to Rock.

Smith was asked to leave by David Rubin, the president of the Academy, and CEO Dawn Hudson, TMZ reported. 

Two sources told the site Rubin and Hudson were ‘furious’ at Smith, and there was plenty of ‘yelling’ and ‘heated conversations’ backstage with his reps after the incident. 

One source said the Academy officials were ‘apoplectic.’ 

Rock, who is yet to respond to Smith’s attack or his apology, will be on stage in Boston on Wednesday night for his first show since the incident.

‘The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,’ their statement said.

‘Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.’ 

Smith will receive 15 days notice of a vote as well as an opportunity to be heard by written response.

At the next board meeting – scheduled for April 18 – the Academy may take action that could include ‘suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.’

In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – whose members vote for the awards, and who stages the ceremony – but stopped short of apologizing to Rock.

Smith initially laughed off the attack, writing on Instagram on Sunday evening: ‘You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!’

Yet as the gravity of the situation became clear, Smith then posted a public apology to Instagram 24 hours after the ceremony, saying he wanted to say sorry formally to Rock.

He said his behavior was ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’ and left him ’embarrassed’.

‘I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,’ he wrote.

‘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.’  

Smith brushed off a tumultuous night by partying to celebrate the greatest achievement of his career: Best Actor at the Oscars

Smith brushed off a tumultuous night by partying to celebrate the greatest achievement of his career: Best Actor at the Oscars

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith showed a united front after the row with Rock overshadowed his Oscar win

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith showed a united front after the row with Rock overshadowed his Oscar win

Condemnation of Smith has grown in the intervening days.  

Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes slammed the Academy, calling their actions ‘gross’ for allowing Smith to remain in the theater, and said his behavior made her feel ‘physically ill.’ 

‘It was sickening,’ Sykes said in a televised interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

‘I felt physically ill and I’m still a little traumatized by it.’  

Sykes told Ellen she was returning to the theater from her trailer when the slap happened. 

She said ‘when I got to the monitor backstage, I just saw Will leaving the stage, and everything was quiet. And I was like, ‘What happened, what happened?!” 

Sykes added that when she saw the video replay, she said it made her feel sick. 

And said she was shocked when Smith was allowed to stay in the theater to accept his Oscar and enjoy the rest of the show. 

Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes slammed the Academy for allowing Smith to remain in the theater Sunday after he slapped Chris Rock, a display she said made her feel 'physically ill'

Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes slammed the Academy for allowing Smith to remain in the theater Sunday after he slapped Chris Rock, a display she said made her feel ‘physically ill’

Sykes told Ellen she was returning to the theater from her trailer when the slap happened. She walked into a silent theater and had the same question others did, 'what is happening'

Sykes told Ellen she was returning to the theater from her trailer when the slap happened. She walked into a silent theater and had the same question others did, ‘what is happening’

Sykes told Ellen during the interview that Smith should have been removed from the building immediately after he slapped Rock.

‘For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award…. I was like, ‘How gross is this?’ she said.  

‘This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building, and that’s it. 

‘But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross. I wanted to be able run out after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately, Will couldn’t be here tonight…’ 

Sykes, who made her hosting debut alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall Sunday night, said she knows Smith apologized to Rock, but pointed out, ‘No one has apologized to us.’

‘We worked really hard to put that show together — so I’m like, what the hell is this?,’ Sykes said.

‘We were the hosts, this is ‘our house,’ we’re gonna take care of y’all tonight and no one has apologized to us,’ Sykes told DeGeneres. 

‘And we worked really had to put that show together.’ 

But Sykes said she did receive an apology from the one person who she said did not owe her one. 

She explained that she ran into Rock at a party that night, and he told her ‘I’m so sorry!’

‘I was like, ‘Why are YOU apologizing?’ He was like, ‘It was supposed to be your night, you and Amy and Regina. And this is now going to be about this.’ 

Her comments come just hours after fellow co-host Amy Schumer weighed in on the incident, saying she is ‘still triggered and traumatized’ by the ‘disturbing’ moment.

In a post shared to her Instagram account in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Schumer, 40, said that she is still feeling the impact of the on-stage altercation.

‘Still triggered and traumatized,’ she wrote on Instagram early Wednesday. 

‘I love my friend Chris Rock and believe he handled it like a pro. Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend Questlove and the whole thing was so disturbing. 

‘So much pain in Will Smith… 

‘Anyway I’m still in shock and stunned and sad. Im proud of myself and my cohosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.’ 

Schumer – who has been close friends with Rock for several years – tried to make a joke out of the incident, jokingly asking the audience if she had ‘missed anything’ and noting that ‘there’s, like, a different vibe in here’ when she returned to her hosting duties in the minutes after Smith slapped Rock on-stage. 

Shocking: Oscars co-host Amy Schumer said she is 'still triggered and traumatized' after Will Smith stormed onto the stage and slapped Chris Rock on Sunday

Shocking: Oscars co-host Amy Schumer said she is ‘still triggered and traumatized’ after Will Smith stormed onto the stage and slapped Chris Rock on Sunday

Schumer, 40, wrote in a post to to plug her TV series, Life & Beth: ''But for real. Still triggered and traumatized. I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro'

Schumer, 40, wrote in a post to to plug her TV series, Life & Beth: ”But for real. Still triggered and traumatized. I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro’

Co-hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes speak onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Sunday

Co-hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes speak onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Sunday 

In a letter leaked on Tuesday night, signed by Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, it states that the ‘Academy’s Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith.’  

Smith faces a range of outcomes, including forcing him to hand back his Oscar.

The most severe punishment would be expulsion from the Academy.

That would put Smith among the ranks of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski, who were all expelled for sexual misconduct.    

Weinstein was expelled ‘for ‘sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment’ and Cosby and Polanski were expelled ‘in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct’ after they had been convicted of sexual assault. 

Weinstein and Polanski’s Oscars were never rescinded.

Jim Carrey, 60, led the condemnation of Smith, and said he was aghast by the adoration with which Smith was received after the attack. 

‘I was sickened by the standing ovation,’ he said, referring to when Smith took home the Best Actor award not long after the slap incident. 

‘I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse. It really felt like this is a clear indication that we’re not the cool club anymore.’

Jim Carrey and Will Smith during Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards 2003

Jim Carrey and Will Smith during Nickelodeon’s 16th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards 2003

Actor and comedian Jim Carrey slammed the audience at Sunday's Academy Awards for giving Will Smith a standing ovation following his now infamous slap of Chris Rock

Actor and comedian Jim Carrey slammed the audience at Sunday’s Academy Awards for giving Will Smith a standing ovation following his now infamous slap of Chris Rock

Benedict Cumberbatch, a fellow Best Actor nominee, as well as Best Director nominee Paul Thomas Anderson and actress Maya Rudolph, were some of the stars who stood for Smith's win

Benedict Cumberbatch, a fellow Best Actor nominee, as well as Best Director nominee Paul Thomas Anderson and actress Maya Rudolph, were some of the stars who stood for Smith’s win

Venus and Serena Williams, whose father Smith portrayed in King Richard, also stood

Venus and Serena Williams, whose father Smith portrayed in King Richard, also stood

Read the full letter sent to members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

 Dear Members,

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.

To be clear, we condemn Mr. Smith’s actions that transpired Sunday night.

As outlined in our bylaws, the Academy’s Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith. As governed by California law regarding members of nonprofit organizations like the Academy, and set forth in our Standards of Conduct, this must follow an official process that will take a few weeks.

We will continue to update you on any developments, but we also ask that you respect your Board, Academy staff and the process as this unfolds so it can work in the considered way it was intended and mandated.

Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy.

Thank you,

David Rubin, PresidentDawn Hudson, CEO

Benedict Cumberbatch, a fellow best actor nominee, as well as best director nominee Paul Thomas Anderson and actress Maya Rudolph were some of the stars who stood for Smith’s win. Venus and Serena Williams, whose father was portrayed by Smith in King Richard, also stood. 

Carrey, who briefly overlapped with Rock in the early 90s on Fox’s In Living Color, claimed Rock didn’t file charges about the slap because he ‘didn’t want the hassle’ and suggested Smith should have been arrested. 

‘I’d have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million because that video’s gonna be there forever. It’s gonna be ubiquitous. That insult is gonna last a very long time,’ Carrey said.

The Mask actor seemed to indicate that expressing disapproval of the joke, by saying something on Twitter or even yelling from the audience, wasn’t beyond the pale – but what Smith ended up doing crossed the line.

‘You do not have the right to walk up on stage and smack somebody on the face because they said words,’ Carrey said.

He suggested that something was ‘going on’ inside of Smith that caused him to do that, and that he acted selfishly.  

‘It didn’t escalate, it came out of nowhere because Will has something going on inside him that’s frustrated and I wish him the best, I really do,’ Carrey said. 

‘I don’t have anything against Will Smith, he’s done great things.

‘It cast a pall over everybody’s shining moment, a lot of people worked really hard to get to that place,’ The Truman Show star added. 

‘It is no mean feat to go through all the stuff you have to go through when you get nominated for an Oscar. 

‘It’s a gauntlet of devotion. It was just a selfish moment.’ 

Carrey’s comments come as The View host Whoopi Goldberg, who is also a member of the Academy board of governors, said she believes Smith will be able to keep his Oscar but will face ‘big consequences – because nobody is OK with what happened.’

Whoopi Goldberg doubled down on her promise to punish Will Smith during Tuesday's show, saying, 'There are consequences. There are big consequences because nobody is OK with what happened. Nobody, nobody, nobody'

Whoopi Goldberg doubled down on her promise to punish Will Smith during Tuesday’s show, saying, ‘There are consequences. There are big consequences because nobody is OK with what happened. Nobody, nobody, nobody’

'This is a season for healing and I'm here for it,' the actress posted to Instagram Tuesday, two days after the incident that stunned millions of viewers

‘This is a season for healing and I’m here for it,’ the actress posted to Instagram Tuesday, two days after the incident that stunned millions of viewers

Pinkett Smith has broken her silence after the incident between her husband and Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about her shaved head. She has been open about her struggle with alopecia on social media

Pinkett Smith has broken her silence after the incident between her husband and Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about her shaved head. She has been open about her struggle with alopecia on social media

Two days after the incident, Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, 50, finally broke her silence with an Instagram post that read, ‘This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.’

Goldberg doubled down on Tuesday on her promise to punish Smith, saying: ‘There are consequences. There are big consequences because nobody is OK with what happened. Nobody, nobody, nobody.’ 

The host claimed that producer Will Packer decided not to remove Smith from the event, ‘because that would have been another 15-, 20 minute-explanation about why we’re taking the black man out five seconds before they’re about to decide whether he’s won an Oscar or not.’

Goldberg did not know that he had been asked to leave, and refused to go. 

Marshall Herskovitz, president emeritus of the Producers Guild of America, was among the first to condemn Smith, tweeting shortly after the attack that Smith had ‘disgraced our entire community’. 

He said: ‘I call upon the Academy, of which I am a member, to take disciplinary action against Will Smith. He disgraced our entire community tonight.’  

Herskovitz accused those who defended the actor of ‘moral cowardice’.

‘People standing up and applauding after the first assault in 94 years of Oscar history. Moral cowardice,’ he said.  

Several Hollywood celebrities denounced Smith’s actions.

Alec Baldwin posted to Instagram and Twitter his condemnation of Smith’s behavior.

‘I’m sorry the Oscars turned into the Jerry Springer Show,’ he said. 

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith attend the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith attend the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party

The actor put on a brave face for photographers after his big moment was undermined by his violent outburst

The actor put on a brave face for photographers after his big moment was undermined by his violent outburst

Comedian and director Judd Apatow called the display ‘pure out of control rage and violence’, claiming that Smith ‘could have killed’ Rock. 

He wrote: ‘Seems like Will Smith’s plan to get comedian and the world to not make jokes about him is not going to pan out. 

‘The Williams family must be furious. Pure narcissism.’

Actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner tweeted: ‘Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did. 

‘He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bulls**t’. 

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill dubbed it the ‘ugliest Oscar moment ever’. 

He added: ‘Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much.’ 




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