Will Smith: Whoopi Goldberg dismisses speculation actor’s career could be over

Whoopi Goldberg has dismissed speculation that Will Smith’s career has been irrevocably hurt by the Oscars slap controversy on 27 March.

Goldberg was discussing Smith’s future Hollywood prospects on Monday night’s (4 April) episode of The View amid backlash over his altercation with Chris Rock.

The King Richard actor slapped and swore at Rock over a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars live ceremony. His behaviour was widely criticised by fans and celebrities alike, and prompted the Academy to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.

Ahead of the Academy’s forthcoming decision over appropriate punitive action on 18 April, a “heartbroken” Smith resigned from the Academy last week.

While accepting the Best Actor winner’s resignation from the Academy, president David Rubin also clarified: “We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on 18 April.”

The Academy board members include Laura Dern, Steven Spielberg and Goldberg.

While discussing Louis CK’s widely condemned Grammy win for Best Comedy Album on Sunday (3 April), Goldberg, 66, began by saying: “Some people found that controversial, but the [Grammys] didn’t have anything like [the slap], which is fine.

“Also some of Will Smith’s future projects are in question,” Goldberg continued, adding: “The question is, does he have a path back? Yes, of course he does… He’ll be fine, he’ll be back. No worries.”

On Friday, it was reported that Netflix had put their forthcoming film with Smith, Fast and Loose, “on the backburner” after the Oscars incident.

The Hollywood Reporter claimed Netflix had previously put out calls for a directorafter filmmaker David Leitch opted out of Fast and Loose in favour of a Universal movie starring Ryan Gosling.

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However, after Smith struck Rock at the Oscars, the streamer “quietly moved the project to the back burner”.

Will Smith strikes Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars

The Independent has reached out to Netflix’s representatives for comment.

Goldberg, who is a serving governor for the Academy’s Actors branch, first addressed the slap during last week’s episode of the US talk show, stating that “it was a lot of stuff [that] probably built up”.

“I think he overreacted… I think he had one of those moments where it was like [God damn] it, just stop. I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to act under pressure. And he snapped.

“Sometimes you get to a point when you behave badly,” she continued. “I myself have behaved badly on occasion.”

During Monday’s episode, Goldberg’s co-host Sunny Hostin said she imagined companies like Netflix were worried about the audience’s reaction to new Smith movies after the slap.

“I think it’s a valid discussion. Joy [Behar] and I were talking about this on Friday – can you separate the art from the artist?” she asked.

Goldberg responded: “You have to, because if you don’t, none of us can be artists.

“Everyone of us steps in poo at some point.”

Smith, in his resignation letter, said he will accept any further disciplinary action that the Academy board deems appropriate.

You can read what the actor’s resignation from the Academy means for him here.

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