The Slap: Oscars producer Will Packer speaks out on what happened behind the scenes right after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock

NEW YORK – Oscar-winning 2022 producer Will Packer talks about what happened behind the scenes of Hollywood’s biggest night after actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ TJ Holmes on Good Morning America on Friday, Packer said the Los Angeles Police Department was ready to “arrest” Smith at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday. evening, after getting up from his seat. he took to the stage and slapped Rock for telling a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“This is an absolute fact,” Packer said. The LAPD made it clear: “We will do whatever you want us to do and one of the choices is that we will go and arrest him right now.”

“I thought it was a little”

Packer, who led the first production team for the Oscars, said he was not worried when Rock first took the stage to present the Best Documentary Award.

“I said, ‘Watch this, it’ s going to kill. ‘ “Because I knew he had an amazing set of jokes we had – we had him on the prompter,” Packer recalls. “He did not say any of the planned jokes, but you can not make it. He was just immediately free. But I tell you, if there is anyone who cares about you” go out in front of a live audience and remove the cuff [it’s] Chris Rock. “No one is better.”

Packer said he had no worries because he knew Rock would make the crowd laugh. But when things suddenly changed, Packer said, “his heart sank.”

“I just saw Will scream on stage, [it] “It was so vitriolic,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no, no, not like that. Not like that.’ But I’m busy, everyone is still in my ear, you know, and they say, ‘Okay, what do we do with the second camera? Is it still up there? Do we make the best documentary category? “And Chris was holding his head when everyone lost theirs.”

“But my heart was in my stomach at the time, because of everything about it and what it represented, what it looked like and who participated,” he added. as I did at that moment. “

SEE: Will Smith’s shocking Oscar confrontation with Chris Rock

Initially, Packer said he “thought it was a little,” as many in the public and at home did. But when Rock left the stage, the producer was able to ask Rock directly what had happened.

“I said, ‘Did he really hit you?'” Packer recalled asking Rock off the stage shortly after the incident. “Chris can, you know. He was in a joke right now, but you could tell he was still in a lot of shock.”

Behind the curtain

Behind the scenes, Packer said police were on the scene immediately and ready to follow whatever Rock decided. Packer told “GMA” that he would also have Rock’s back.

“I made it clear, ‘Rock, tell me what you want to do, bro,'” Packer said. “The LAPD came and had to talk to Chris. And so they came to my office and it was very clear what Chris’s rights were. They said, ‘This is a battery.’ We are going to get him. “We will go and get him now, you can make accusations, we can arrest him.”

However, Packer said Rock was “rejection” of the choices made by police, insisting it was “good”. While Packer did not speak to Smith, his co-producer Shayla Cowan informed him that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was to remove Smith from the ceremony. The academy said in a statement Wednesday that Smith had been asked to leave, but he refused.

RELATED: In the first speech after the Oscars slap, Chris Rock says that “he is still working on what happened”

“It just happened before the Best Actor award,” Packer recalled, noting that he did not participate in the discussion with the Academy about Smith’s removal from the area. I immediately went to the leadership of the Academy who was on the scene and said: “Chris Rock does not want that”, I said: “Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation”.

Because Rock was not vindictive, aggressive or angry after the incident, Packer said he was willing to support what the comedian wanted at the time, which was not to prosecute Smith.

Smith’s apology

Smith won Best Actor that night for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.” It was his first Oscar. When giving the acceptance speech on stage, a tearful Smith apparently referred to the controversy without mentioning or apologizing directly to Rock. Instead, he apologized to the Academy and its candidates.

The next day, Smith formally apologized to Rock and the Academy for his actions in an Instagram post. Packer said Smith also contacted him that morning.

“He apologized and said, ‘You know, that must have been a giant moment for you,'” Packer recalls. “He expressed his embarrassment and that was the extent.”

Smith also reportedly apologized to the other Oscar producers in a frantic Zoom phone call on Tuesday. But the academy’s board, which announced on Wednesday that it was launching disciplinary proceedings against the actor, was initially unaware.

The academy has announced that it will hold its next board meeting on April 18, at which members may decide to take disciplinary action against Smith, such as suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

Rock faced the moment with “grace and wonder”

Although Rock has not said much about what happened between him and Smith, he told the audience in his first post-Oscar-winning comedy on Wednesday night that he was still “working on what happened” and that he would talk about it in some point.

But in the days since the Oscars, many have been burdened and still shocked by the incident, including one of this year’s co-presenter, comedian Wanda Sykes, who told Ellen DeGeneres in an April 7 interview that she was “sick”. with what came down to the stage.

“To leave him [Smith] stay in this room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept its prize, I said, “How vulgar is that?” said Sykes. “This is just the wrong message. You are attacking someone, they are escorting you out of the building and that’s it.”

Meanwhile, Packer continues to praise Rock for handling the moment how he did it, especially as the energy in the room dropped.

“Chris handled the moment with so much grace and determination – he allowed the show to continue,” Packer said. “Because Chris continued the way he did, he completed the class. He handed the trophy to Questlove, who I feel was really robbed of the moment. He gave us permission to continue the show, what we were trying to do.”

“It was such a huge moment and such a sad and frustrating moment that we were not going to come back from inside that night, this week,” he added. “I do not know when we will return and people will talk about anything other than the show.”

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The Slap: Oscars producer Will Packer speaks out on what happened behind the scenes right after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock Source link The Slap: Oscars producer Will Packer speaks out on what happened behind the scenes right after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock

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