As The Saga of the Slap continues, Oscars producer Will Packer is defending how the all-consuming Will Smith and Chris Rock moment was handled despite the chaos that ensued behind the scenes. During an in-depth interview with Good Morning America, Packer walked through what happened from the moment Rock left the stage to the surreal moment when Smith, who was still in the building, took the podium and received a standing ovation while accepting the Oscar for Best Actor.
According to Packer, Rock was the one who fought to keep Smith in the building and out of handcuffs, which the LAPD was ready to do. As for the Academy members applauding Smith, Packer claims it had nothing to do with The Slap. Via Variety:
“It wasn’t like this was somebody they didn’t know,” Packer said. “It doesn’t make anything that he did right, and doesn’t excuse that behavior at all, but I think that the people in that room who stood up stood up for somebody who they knew, who was a peer, who was a friend, who was a brother, who has a three decades-plus long career of being the opposite of what we saw in that moment. I think these people saw the person that they know and were hoping that somehow, some way this was an aberration…I don’t think that these were people that were applauding anything at all about that moment.”
As for the conflicting reports on whether or not Smith was asked to leave the building, Packer denied reports that he spoke to Smith and told the actor he wanted him to stay. The Oscars producer said he never had any conversations with Smith directly after The Slap, but he was told that Academy members wished to “physically remove” Smith from the building, which obviously, didn’t occur. However, Packer did say that Smith reached out the next morning and apologized for the incident.