Oscar showrunner Will Packer said Chris Rock didn’t want Will Smith “physically” removed from the ceremony after he stormed the stage to punch the comedian.
The US film producer told Good Morning America that Rock “didn’t want to make a bad situation worse” and spoke to an academy representative on behalf of the stand-up.
It comes after the Academy, which organizes the Oscars, said Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after the star-studded event but refused.
Speaking on the US show, Packer said, “Shayla[Cowan, co-producer]told me that they were going to physically remove Will Smith and I did not participate in those discussions.
“So I immediately went to the Academy leadership, who was there, and said, ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that.’
“I said, ‘Rock has made it clear that he doesn’t want to make a bad situation worse.’ That was Chris’ energy. His tone was non-retaliatory. His tone wasn’t angry.
“So I endorsed what Rock wanted at the time, which was not physically removing Will Smith at the time. Because, as I was now explained, that was the only option at the time.
“I was explained that there was a conversation I was not involved in to ask him to leave voluntarily.”
Hollywood trading house Variety has reported that Smith met with academy executives on Tuesday to discuss his outbreak and has apologized to executive director Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin.
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Smith, 53, won Best Actor for King Richard but stormed onto the stage before his victory after responding to a joke by Rock that referred to his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
Packer told GMA that Smith contacted him the morning after the ceremony to apologize.
“He said, ‘That should have been a gigantic moment for you,’ and he expressed his embarrassment, and that was the magnitude.”
Packer, who said Rock “didn’t tell any of the planned jokes” onstage, also said that he initially thought the incident was something Rock and Smith planned together.
He said: “I thought that was part of something Chris and Will were doing on their own, I thought it was a little bit … like everyone else I knew we hadn’t practiced it.
“I wasn’t worried at all (when Smith went on stage). I was like, OK, he’s going to say something or come up to 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.
“When I saw Will yelling at him like that in a hateful way on stage, my heart sank and I just remember thinking, ‘Oh no, not like that.'”
A formal review will discuss what disciplinary action will be taken, and Smith is reportedly to be given an opportunity to present a written defense before the academy’s board meets again on April 18.
Los Angeles police said no charges had been filed against him, but according to Packer, they told Rock he had the authority to do so.
Smith has since formally apologized to Rock on Instagram, admitting he reacted “emotionally” to the joke, but said “violence in all its forms is toxic and destructive.”
Pinkett Smith also called for a “season of healing.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/oscars-show-runner-says-chris-rock-did-not-want-will-smith-physically-removed-41510865.html Oscar showrunner says Chris Rock didn’t want Will Smith ‘physically removed’