Oscars producer Will Packer claims he told officials that Chris Rock did not want Will Smith removed from Sunday’s ceremony, after Will smacked Rock in the face onstage.
In an interview with Good Morning America that aired Friday, Will Packer alleged that he “immediately went to the Academy leadership that was on site and I said, ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that,’ ” referencing Will’s potential removal from the event.
“I said, ‘Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse,’ ” the producer added.
Packer says that conversation came after Rock, 57, told the Los Angeles Police Department he didn’t want to press charges. (Meanwhile, sources told Deadline that Rock was never asked if he felt Will, 53, should be removed.)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences previously said in a Wednesday statement to PEOPLE that Will “was asked to leave the ceremony and refused,” and added that they “also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
While Rock has so far declined to press charges against Will, Packer said on GMA of wanting to respect the comedian’s wishes following the incident, “I made that clear, like, ‘Rock, you tell me, whatever you want to do, brother.’ “
“The LAPD came and needed to talk to Chris. And so they came into my office and they were laying out very clearly what Chris’ rights were. They were saying: ‘This is battery. We will go get him. We will go get him right now, you can press charges, we can arrest him,’ ” the producer further alleged.
According to Packer, Rock said he was “fine” following the incident, and was “dismissive” of options give to him by law enforcement.
The controversy unraveled after Rock made light of Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, which she’s recently opened up about as a result of her years-long struggle with alopecia. “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya,” he joked.
Will then walked onto stage and smacked Rock in the face, leaving the audience and live viewers around the world stunned. “Oh wow,” said a seemingly taken-aback Rock as Will made his way back to his seat. “Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me.”
“Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” Will yelled up to the stage at Rock after taking his seat again.
After an initial statement, the Academy announced that they “condemn” Will’s actions and have “officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
In its statement Wednesday, the Academy offered insight into the course of action taken against the King Richard actor, who took home the Oscar for Best Actor after the incident with Rock occurred.
“The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” the statement read.
“Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response,” it continued.
At the next board meeting, set for April 18, the Academy said they “may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct. The group also issued an apology to Rock, as well as everyone in attendance at Sunday’s event and those watching from home.
Will has since apologized to Rock, writing in a lengthy Instagram post on Monday, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.”
“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,” he added.
This saga just won’t end…