Jeff was attending the Closed Sessions Legend Conversation event at Dorian’s Through the Record Shop in Chicago, when he was asked about the incident, People reports. He described it as “a lapse in judgment” on Smith’s part.
“Don’t get it twisted that it was something he was proud of. It was a lapse in judgment, you know?” he said, per the clip of the event seen below. “I think the thing that I’ve realized is I don’t know too many people that has had the least amount of lapse of judgment than him. I can name 50 times that he should’ve smacked the shit out of somebody and he didn’t. … So for him to have a lapse in judgment, he’s human. And I think a lot of the criticism comes from the people who don’t think people like that are human.”
Following the incident, Smith apologized to Chris and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in a statement. As a result of his actions, the King Richard star and Best Actor winner has been banned from attending the Oscars for the next decade.
“The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” said AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
The Academy has faced criticism for the length of the ban, with some highlighting that disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and convicted child rapist Roman Polanski never had their Academy Awards rescinded. Smith has not been asked to return his award, but it should be noted Polanski received an award for Best Director in 2003 while he was a fugitive from American justice.