Halle Berry Replaces Will Smith as Oscars Presenter for Best Actress Category
With Will Smith banned from attending the 94th Academy Awards after slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony, all eyes were on who the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would select to present this year’s best actress category. The honor went to Halle Berry, a best actress Oscar winner herself for “Monster’s Ball.” Berry and Jessica Chastain jointly presented the best actor and best actress categories.
Chastain won best actress last year for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Last year’s winners for best supporting actor and actress, Troy Kotsur (“Coda”) and Ariana Debose (“West Side Story”), presented this year’s supporting actor prize to Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and this year’s supporting actress prize to Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once.”) Smith was the only 2022 acting Oscar winner not to present a category in 2023.
Tradition would have it that last year’s best actor winner, Will Smith, would’ve presented this year’s best actress category. That became impossible after the Academy announced last year it was banning Smith from attending any Academy events or programs for 10 years, including but not limited to the Academy Awards. Smith had already resigned from the Academy prior to the ban announcement, with the organization then accepting his resignation.
It’s not the first time the Academy has had to break with its longstanding tradition of getting the previous year’s acting Oscar winners to present the current year’s acting Oscar winners. Robin Williams presented best supporting actress at the 2010 Oscars to Mo’Nique (“Precious”) in place of Heath Ledger, who died before winning the 2009 Oscar for best supporting actor thanks to his performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
Jodie Foster and Jennifer Lawrence teamed up to present best actress at the 2018 Oscars to Frances McDormand (“”Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) in place of Casey Affleck, whose 2017 best actor win for best actor with “Manchester by the Sea” ignited controversy due to harassment allegations against him. Even Smith was awarded his “King Richard” best actor trophy last year by reunited “Pulp Fiction” stars Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and John Travolta, who presented the category in place of 2021 best actress winner Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”).
Smith slapped Rock at the 2022 Oscars while the latter was presenting the best documentary feature category. Rock made a controversial joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, which she shaved following an alopecia diagnosis. After the slap, Smith returned to his seat and repeatedly screamed at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” The ceremony continued with Smith remaining in attendance as he won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard.”
Smith resigned from the Academy a few days later, writing in a statement, “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.”
In the Academy’s Will Smith ban announcement, the organization wrote: “This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
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