The 2023 Academy Awards may have gone off without a hitch, but the Academy president Janet Yang is ready to welcome back Will Smith…to an extent.
After Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars ceremony, the Best Actor winner was banned from all Academy events for the next decade; Smith can still however be nominated. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Yang told The Hollywood Reporter that Smith is welcome to get his nameplate engraved on the Oscar statue as the “King Richard” actor did not attend the Governors Ball after the ceremony last year, where nameplates are added to the awards.
“He earned the Oscar,” Yang said. “He should have his name engraved on it. I don’t know if he should personally come. But yeah, we can arrange.”
Reflecting on her initial reaction watching Smith attack Rock last year onstage, Yang said, “Truly, we were numb. Like everyone else, in the beginning when Will walks onto stage, we’re like, ‘Oh, this is a funny bit. He is going to pretend he slaps him, and then Chris is going to act stunned. And then it was like, ‘Ok, well that’s over.’ And then he goes back to his seat and then he starts shouting — that’s when, of course, everyone said, ‘Oh my God, this is real.’”
The infamous Oscars slap was addressed by 2023 Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel in his opening monologue.
“We want you to have fun, we want you to be safe, and most importantly, we want me to be safe,” Kimmel said. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence anytime during this show, you will be presented the Oscar for Best Actor and be permitted to give an 18-minute long speech.”
Kimmel noted that a “crisis team” was in place, but in case things do go sideways, he joked, “Just do what you did last year – nothing. Sit there and do absolutely nothing. Maybe give the assailant a hug.”
Halle Berry also took over Smith’s presenter duties when bestowing the award for Best Actress to “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh.