Oscars Producer Says Chris Rock Didn’t Want Will Smith Arrested for Slap
Oscars telecast producer Will Packer says Chris Rock didn’t want Will Smith arrested after the actor slapped him at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Packer discussed the confrontation between Smith and Rock during Friday’s episode of Good Morning America.
Rock was presenting an award Sunday at the Oscars when he made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her close-cropped hair. Pinkett Smith has been public about her struggle with alopecia, which causes bald spots and hair loss.
Smith responded to the joke by striding up on stage and slapping Rock in the face. The actor then returned to his seat and yelled to Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth!”
On GMA, Packer said he, like many viewers, was initially unsure if the altercation was a joke.
“I thought this was something that Chris and Will were doing on their own. I thought it was a bit, like everybody else. We hadn’t practiced it,” he said.
Packer said his “heart dropped” once he realized the situation was serious. He spoke to Rock after the comedian came offstage and asked if Smith had really hit him.
“He looks at me and goes, ‘Yeah. I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali.’ He was right away in joke mode, but you could tell that he was in complete shock,” Packer said.
Smith was allowed to stay in his seat after the confrontation and won Best Actor for his role in King Richard shortly after. The actor was given a standing ovation as he delivered a teary acceptance speech, in which he apologized to Academy but not to Rock.
On GMA, Packer confirmed the Los Angeles Police Department was ready to remove Smith but said Rock didn’t want the actor arrested.
“That is an absolute fact. The LAPD made it clear — ‘We will do whatever you want us to do, and one of the options is that we will go and arrest him right now,'” Packer said.
“They said, ‘We will go get him; we are prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him.’ They were laying out the options and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine. No, no, no.’ Even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish,'” he added.
Smith and Rock attended separate Oscars after-parties later in the evening, and Smith issued a public apology to Rock the next day for his behavior.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it is investigating the incident and still figuring out what consequences, if any, Smith will face for his actions.