At the 2022 Oscars ceremony, a slap was heard around the world.
Will Smith walked onto the stage and struck Chris Rock, after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
Smith then yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” while Rock, looking flustered, told the shocked audience: “Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.”
Smith – who won the Best Actor Oscar just minutes later for his performance in King Richard – is now facing the prospect of disciplinary action from the Academy.
On Wednesday night (30 March), the Academy’s board of governors – which includes Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Laura Dern – held an emergency meeting to discuss the incident.
Many had been left wondering what punitive action, if any, the Academy will take against the actor, a longtime voting member. No actor has ever been stripped of their Oscar before, but several stars have had their Academy membership revoked.
In his tearful acceptance speech, Smith had apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, saying: “I hope the Academy invites me back,” but, on Friday (1 April), Smith announced his resignation from the organization. Find exactly what that means for Smith’s future at the Oscars here.
Only three people, including Smith, have ever resigned as members. The other two – sound engineer Tom Fleischman and production sound mixer Peter Kurland – occurred in March 2022 after it was announced that the technical awards would be announced before the ceremony had officially begun.
Here are the five people who have been expelled from the Academy (aka had their membership revoked) in its 94-year history…
The Godfather Part II star Caridi was the first person ever kicked out of the Academy. In 2004, he was expelled for producing VCR copies of preview screeners and sharing them around. The FBI investigated the actor after copies of Something’s Gotta Give, The Last Samurai, Mystic River, Big Fish and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World were said to have been traced back to Caridi.
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Federal authorities alleged that for at least three years, Caridi had given a man called Russell Sprague his screener copies of as many as 60 movies. Caridi gave Sprague’s name to the FBI in exchange for immunity and was sued by Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros.
Hollywood mogul Weinstein was expelled in 2017, just one month after the explosive New York Times report that brought to light allegations of sexual harassment against him.
The board said its decision was “not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues” but also “to send a message that the era of wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over”.
Weinstein’s brother Bob had urged the Academy to expel him, calling the producer “sick and depraved”, adding: “I am gonna write a note to them saying he definitely should be kicked out of the Academy.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of wrongdoing but is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for his crimes.
The Cosby Show actor – known at one point as “America’s Dad” for his paternal role in the series – was expelled in 2018, one month after he was found guilty of sexual assault. He had been on trial for drugging and assaulting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004.
He was sentenced to up to 10 years but has since been released from prison, and had his 2018 sexual assault conviction overturned. He has long denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Director Polanski was expelled at the same time as Cosby, despite pleading guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor all the way back in 1977 in the US and fled to France. The #MeToo movement that came after Weinstein’s crimes were exposed put pressure on the Academy to act against Polanski.
In retaliation, Polanski filed a lawsuit against the Academy, which he lost. In a statement, the Academy said its board “has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct”.
It added: “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
Cinematographer Kimmel, who worked on films such as Hood and Lars and the Real Girl, was expelled in 2021, after reports emerged of his history as a registered sex offender.
Kimmel was arrested in 2003 and 2010 and charged both times for sexual crimes against underage girls. After the first arrest, Kimmel pleaded guilty to third-degree rape. After the second, he was convicted of a class D felony for failing to register as a sex offender.
Follow live updates on the Will Smith Oscars scandal here.