Can Hollywood star Will Smith land his second Oscar after the infamous slapgate at the 94th Academy Awards conducted earlier this year? That’s the question facing Apple after it announced that it will release ‘Emancipation’, a drama about an escaped slave that it paid Smith $35 million to star in and produce, reports Variety.
The streamer is betting that the furor over Smith’s assault of Chris Rock at the Oscars has died down, particularly after Smith recorded an awkward apology video. But even if Smith becomes the first performer since Tom Hanks to score back-to-back Oscars for best actor, he won’t be able to pick up his prize in person.
Nor will he even be able to accept it via satellite. That’s because in April, facing almost certain expulsion, Smith decided to resign from membership of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. According to Variety, that was followed almost immediately by the Academy Board of Governors’ decision to ban him from the Oscars telecast and Academy-sponsored events for 10 years.
But even though he can’t accept his award on the broadcast, Smith can still be nominated, and even win another Oscar.
Variety further states that it’s unclear how aggressively Smith will campaign for the prize or if Apple will even push him in the crowded best actor race, which also includes Brendan Fraser, Austin Butler, Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman, none of whom slapped a beloved stand-up during a global television event.
But if Smith decides to press the flesh, he won’t be able to do it at any Academy member gatherings. He’ll have to consign himself to events presented by the likes of SAG and the Golden Globes.
If Smith’s performance was able to overcome his publicly perceived “blacklisting,” the Academy’s Actors Branch, which comprises about 1,400 former colleagues, acquaintances, and Hollywood adjacent working performers, can place him on their ballot to receive a nomination when voting occurs from January 12 to January 17. The official nominations will be announced on January 24.