In an interview with “Good Morning America” on ABC, Packer said that after Smith had been asked to leave the ceremony for slapping Chris Rock, he asked the leadership of the Academy not to “physically remove” him from the Dolby Theatre in the middle of the live broadcast.
“I was advocating what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time,” Packer said. “Because as it has now been explained to me, that was the only option at that point. It has been explained to me that there was a conversation that I was not a part of to ask him to voluntarily leave.”
Packer also said that Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair was unscripted “free-styling.”
“He didn’t tell one of the planned jokes,” Packer continued.
Initially, Packer thought the confrontation between Smith and Rock was a pre-planned bit until he spoke with the comedian backstage.
“I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,” Packer recalled Rock saying to him.
Packer lauded Rock for being able to maintain his cool during an extremely difficult situation.
“Chris was keeping his head when everyone else was losing theirs,” he said.
“I’ve never felt so immediately devastated,” Packer said of the incident.
Packer also said that he wished that Smith would have left the ceremony after hearing his acceptance speech because he believed that the Oscar winner didn’t show enough remorse for assaulting Rock.
“If he wasn’t going to give that speech which made it truly better, then yes, yes,” Packer responded when asked if he thought Smith should have left the ceremony. “Because now you don’t have the optics of somebody who committed this act, didn’t nail it in terms of a conciliatory acceptance speech in that moment, who then continued to be in the room.”
Eventually, Smith apologized to Rock in a statement on Monday.
Packer also said that Smith was not removed from the event because Rock said that it wasn’t necessary.
“They were saying, this is battery, we will go get him,” said Packer. “We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him.”
“Chris was being very dismissive of those options,” Packer continued. “He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.’”
As EBONY previously reported, Smith resigned from the Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just as the Board of Governors began “disciplinary proceedings” against him. He issued an official statement on Friday.
“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” his statement read.
I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he noted. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”
Reportedly, Will and Jada are going to tell their side of the story on an upcoming episode of Red Table Talk.