The actor had been facing disciplinary action such as possible expulsion or suspension from the Academy.
Instead, he has chosen to resign. In a statement, Smith called his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable” and said he will accept any “further consequences” the Academy may still decide on.
“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith’s statement continued.
“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”
Smith added: “I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.”
His statement concluded: “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Smith’s resignation comes after the actor walked on stage during the Oscars and struck Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife and fellow actor, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” he quipped in an apparent reference to the actor’s shaved head.
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Pinkett Smith – who announced last year that she shaved her head after struggling with alopecia – could be seen in the audience together with her husband, rolling her eyes at the joke.
After Rock’s comment, Smith stood up and proceeded to walk towards the stage.
“Uh oh…” Rock was heard uttering. Smith then proceeded to hit Rock and then walk off stage back to his seat.
“Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” said Rock, looking visibly shocked at the moment.
Smith was then heard yelling: “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” to which Rock replied: “Wow … dude. It was a GI Jane joke.”
“Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” Smith yelled again. “I’m going to…” replied the comedian, who appeared flustered at the interaction.
“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Rock said, before going on to present the award for Best Documentary.
Find exactly what Smith’s resignation means for his future at the Oscars here.