The only thing that stood between actor Will Smith and a criminal charge last Sunday was the man he had just slapped on worldwide TV, according to Oscars producer Will Packer.
And comedian Chis Rock refused to let it happen.
“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,” Parker said in an interview Thursday with “Good Morning America.”
“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,’” Parker said.
Rock was “dismissive” of what police proposed, and said he was “fine,” Packer said.
Packer said Rock’s conduct in private was equal to his calm conduct in the immediate aftermath of being slapped over a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“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,” he said.
Poor joke. But Chris Rock taught one a lesson in how to handle a mess. Such a dignified response.
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) March 28, 2022
In the interview, Packer first said he did not think the moment was real, according to Sky News.
“I thought this was part of something that Chris and Will were doing on their own. I thought it was a bit, like everybody else. I wasn’t concerned at all,” he said.
“I figured, OK, you know, he’s going to say something or come at him, something funny is going to happen because that’s the nature of Chris and that’s the nature of Will. So, let’s see what happens.”
Then came the slap. Packer said he was still unsure of what he had seen until Rock came offstage.
Should Will Smith have been arrested at the Oscars?
“I said: ‘Did he really hit you?” Packer said. “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.”
Smith played Ali in a 2001 movie.
Packer told “Good Morning America” that the impact of the incident will not fade quickly.
“It was such a huge moment, and such a sad and disappointing moment that it wasn’t something that we were going to come back from within that night, within this week,” he said.
“I don’t know when we’ll come back and people will be talking about anything else other than the show.”