Will Packer Acknowledges LAPD Was Prepared to Slap Cuffs On Will Smith After Slapping Chris Rock
On Friday on Good Morning America, the first Black producer of the Academy Awards show told ABC News‘ TJ Holmes that the Los Angeles Police Department was willing to “arrest” Smith after he slapped a stunned Rock at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday night.
When Packer spoke to Rock, he said that the comedian handled it well, even joking about what had just happened.
“I said: ‘Did he really hit you? And he looked at me and he goes: ‘I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali.’ It’s exactly what he said, as only Chris can, you know. He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much still in shock.”
The producer said the police officers were instantly backstage and were ready to pounce on Smith and arrest him if Rock so desired.
“I made that clear, like, ‘Rock, you tell me, whatever you want to do, brother,'” Packer said.
“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.'”
Packer explains that Rock would not agree to have Smith arrested and just wanted the show to continue and stating that he was fine. Packer goes on to say that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was about to remove Smith from the ceremony. Although he was not a part of that conversation, he immediately went to the Academy leadership and told them that “Rock doesn’t want that’ and “made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation.'”
Packer acknowledged the grace that Rock handled the situation with.
“Chris handled the moment with such grace and aplomb — it allowed the show to continue,” Packer said. “Because Chris continued the way that he did, he completed the category. He handed the trophy to Questlove, who I feel like was really robbed of their moment. It gave us license in a way to continue the show, which is what we were trying to do.”