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Oscars producer Will Packer shares 'devastating' new details about Will Smith and Chris Rock moment

Even producers thought it was an unplanned skit

will chris slap
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca LewisReporterLos Angeles
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Oscars producer Will Packer has opened up for the first time on the "devastating" moment that saw Will Smith slap Chris Rock live during the 2022 Academy Awards.

MORE: Chris Rock breaks silence on Will Smith Oscars altercation: 'I'm still processing what happened'

Packer, who was producing the show with an all-black production team, broke his silence on Friday and shared on Good Morning America that his heart was "in my stomach" as the action played out on camera "because of everything about it and what it represented and what it looked like and who was involved".

WATCH: Will Smith assaults Chris Rock at 2022 Oscars

When asked if he wished Will had left the ceremony instead of staying to receive his Oscar, Packer admitted: "Many of us were hoping he would go on that stage and make it better.

"It couldn't be made right because of what had happened, but we hoped he would make it better and stand on that stage, and say, 'What just happened minutes ago was absolutely and completely wrong, Chris Rock I am sorry and please forgive me,' so if he wasn't going to do that speech that would have truly made it better then yes, [he should have left the ceremony]."

SEE: Celebrities react to Will Smith's shocking Chris Rock altercation

READ: Jada Pinkett Smith hair loss: everything she's said about 'terrifying' alopecia

The energy was "sucked out of the room" after the incident, Packer added, before praising Chris for "keeping his head" and continuing to present the Best Documentary category which went to Questlove and Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).

"Chris handled the moment with such grace and aplomb. It allowed the show to continue. Because Chris continued the way that he did, he completed the category," Packer said.


Will broke his silence on GMA

"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."

MORE: Will Smith excluded from huge Oscars honour after Chris Rock altercation

Packer also confirmed that he thought at first may have been a skit between the two because Chris did not tell a single planned joke that was on the prompter: "He was just immediately freestyling.

"But I tell you, if there's anybody that you don't worry about going out in front of a live audience and riffing off the cuff, [it's] Chris Rock. Nobody's better."

will smith slap chris rock

Will admitted even producers thought it was an unplanned skit

Chris had appeared on stage to present Best Documentary and mocked Jada Pinkett Smith's new look, joking: "Jada, love you, GI Jane 2, can't wait to see it!"

He was referencing her shaved head, a style she chose after sharing she has been suffering with alopecia. But as Chris went to continue his speech, Will stormed the stage and slapped Chris with the sound being picked up on his mic.

Chris tried to diffuse the situation by calling out "it was a GI Jane joke" as Will sat back down and began screaming: "Shut your mouth, keep my wife's name out of your [expletive] mouth."

will expletive

Will shouted profanities at Chris

After Chris left the stage, Packer approached him and asked if Will had "really hit" him to which Chris reportedly replied: "I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali."

"He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much still in shock," Packer added.

It was also confirmed that the Los Angeles Police Department were at the event and "made it clear" that they were willing to arrest father of three Will for "battery," but that it was Chris who did not want to cause a bigger scene.

will oscars

Will later accepted his first ever Oscar with tears in his eyes

"That is an absolute fact," he said. "The LAPD made it clear: 'We will do whatever you want us to do, and one of the options is that we will go and arrest him right now.'"

"I made that clear, like, 'Rock, you tell me, whatever you want to do, brother,'" Packer said.

Chris did not want to press charges but on Wednesday it was confirmed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that they are taking formal action against the King Richard actor.

Two days after the incident AMPAS issued a letter to members in which they shared that they "will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith".

"As governed by California law regarding members of nonprofit organizations like the Academy, and set forth in our Standards of Conduct, this must follow an official process that will take a few weeks."

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