Police were “prepared” to arrest Will Smith over Chris Rock slap, says Oscars producer
Oscars producer Will Packer has claimed the Los Angeles Police Department were “prepared” to arrest Will Smith for hitting Chris Rock at last week’s ceremony, but said that Rock prevented them from doing so.
Before winning the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard, Smith took to the stage to slap Rock over a joke the latter made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. In 2018, Pinkett Smith revealed she has alopecia.
- READ MORE: The story of Slapgate: Will Smith and Chris Rock’s relationship through the years
Upon returning to his seat, Smith shouted to a stunned Rock: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
It was reported shortly after the incident took place that Rock would not be pressing charges against Smith.
During an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Oscars producer Packer spoke out for the first time about the altercation, revealing that the LAPD had visited his office to speak to Rock on the night.
“They were saying, you know, this is battery was the word they used in that moment,” Packer told GMA. “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’.”
He went on to say that the police were “laying out the options”, adding: “And as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, no, I’m fine’. He was like, ‘No, no, no’.”
Packer continued: “And even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish’. The LAPD officers finish laying out what his options were. And they said, you know, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said, ‘No’.”
According to GMA, the producer did not speak directly with Smith at all on the evening of the Oscars 2022.
Rock broke his silence about the incident while performing a stand-up comedy show to a sold-out audience in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday night (March 30).
“I’m still kind of processing what happened,” he said. “At some point, I’ll talk about that shit – and it will be serious and funny.”
Smith has been widely criticised for his outburst, and the actor later apologised to the Academy as well as his fellow nominees in the category during his winning speech. He did not mention Rock at the time, but has since issued a formal apology to the comedian.
“I was out of line and I was wrong,” Smith wrote. “I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
- READ MORE: The best supporting actors in the Smith/Rock scandal
The Oscars, meanwhile, launched a formal review into the incident while condemning Smith’s actions.
Elsewhere, the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences has claimed that it asked Will Smith to leave the 2022 Oscars ceremony after he slapped Chris Rock, but the actor refused.
Joseph Patel – the producer of Summer Of Soul, which won the Best Documentary Oscar – wrote in a lengthy thread on Twitter that Smith had “robbed” Questlove and the film’s team of their winning moment.
“I think what Will did was selfish,” Patel said, adding: “And what both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us. FIN.”