“I said, ‘Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse,'” Packer said. “That was Chris’ energy. His tone was not retaliatory, his tone was not aggressively angry, and so I was advocating what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time.”
Stage encounter left producer ‘devastated’
The first-time Oscars producer had “never felt so immediately devastated like I did in that moment,” as he watched Smith slap Rock, Packer said, then rushed to Rock as he exited the stage to confirm Smith indeed had struck him.
“I said, ‘Did he really hit you?'” Packer recounted. “And he looked at me, and he goes ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,’ as only Chris Rock can. He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much in still shock.” Smith portrayed the famed boxer in the 2001 film “Ali.”
Los Angeles Police Department officers soon came into Packer’s office, he told “GMA,” and said to Rock: “This is battery” and that they were prepared to arrest Smith that night.
Police said, “‘We will go get him. We are prepared. We are prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him,'” Packer said. “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.'”