Police were ready to arrest Will Smith at the Oscars after the actor slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage, the ceremony’s producer has said.
In his first interview since Sunday’s event, Will Packer said officers asked Rock if he wanted them to take action. But the star was “very dismissive” of that offer, Packer told ABC TV.
Smith has apologised for striking Rock over a joke about his wife Jada, while Oscars organisers and Packer have come under scrutiny for their responses.
In an interview clip published by ABC’s Good Morning America, the producer described the conversation between Rock and Los Angeles police officers in the aftermath of the incident.
“They were saying, you know, this is – battery was the word they used at that moment. They said, ‘We will go get him. We are prepared. We’re prepared to go get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him.’
“They were laying out the options. And as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine’. He was like, ‘No, no, no.’ Even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, Let them finish’.
“The other LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were and they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘No.'”
After the film awards finished on Sunday, a police spokesperson said: “The individual involved has declined to file a police report.
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
The full interview with Packer, a producer for 2015 Oscar-nominated film Straight Outta Compton and 2017’s Girls Trip, will be broadcast later on Friday.
There have been conflicting reports about the role the producer played in Smith remaining in the Dolby Theatre to accept his best actor award, shortly after the now infamous slap.
Variety said Packer went into the auditorium and spoke to Smith – but reports differ on whether Packer asked Smith to stay or not.
On Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, released a statement saying: “While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently.”
The organisation has started disciplinary proceedings against Smith, and its board will meet on 18 April to discuss what action to take. That could include “suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct”, it said.
Rock said on Wednesday, as he hosted the latest leg of his US tour in Boston, that he is “still processing what happened”. Rock, who was greeted with a standing ovation by fans, also denied some reports in US media that he had spoken to Smith since the incident.