The Hollywood film academy revealed on Wednesday that Will Smith turned down a request to leave the Oscars ceremony after slapping host Chris Rock.
In a more recent statement, the academy said it has initiated a process that could lead to the best actor winner being expelled from the group.
During the live broadcast, Smith took the stage after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife’s appearance and then slapped the comedian across the face. The actor returned to his seat and twice yelled an obscenity at Rock.
Less than an hour later, Smith accepted the best actor trophy, prompting questions about why he hadn’t been joined.
“Things unfolded in a way that we could not have anticipated,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, said in a statement.
“While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently.”
The academy said it has initiated a process that could lead to disciplinary action against Smith for violations of its standards of conduct, “including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
Suspension, expulsion or other sanctions may be approved at their next board meeting on April 18.
Smith apologized to Rock, the academy and viewers in a statement Monday, saying he was “out of character” and “reacted emotionally.”