US Police Were Ready to Arrest Will Smith Over Oscars Slap, Actor Was Never Pushed to Leave - Report
This year's Oscars was remembered by many not for the chic outfits of movie stars or some stunning acts of the show, but for a slap in the face and a verbal altercation between a comedian and a top actor because of a joke about his wife's hairstyle.
US actor Will Smith was not told to leave the 94th Academy Awards after hitting American comedian Chris Rock over his "G.I. Jane 2" joke to Jada Pinkett Smith, rather, it was only suggested, Deadline reported
According to the report, a pair of Oscar executives, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, met with Smith's representative to explore the possibility of the then-pending “King Richard” Best Actor winner leaving the Dolby Theatre.
Instead, Smith reportedly told his representative that he wanted "to make this right, I want to stay and apologize."
Oscar telecast producer Will Packer, along with celebrities Denzel Washington, Tyler Perry, and Bradley Cooper, spoke with Smith after the slapping incident, per the report. And it was reportedly Packer who told Smith to stay at the show and not go.
Still, another source reportedly told the outlet that Smith's departure from the Dolby Theater was a "firm ask" from Academy leadership, not just a suggestion.
Incidentally, Packer also relayed
in an ABC News exclusive that is set to air on Friday that members of the Los Angeles Police Department were on scene and "ready" to take Smith into custody if he had wanted to press charges.
"They were laying out the options. And as they were talking, Chris was — he was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m fine.’ And even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish,'" Packer recalled to the outlet. "The 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."
On Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement, in which it reiterated that although Smith was "asked to leave the ceremony and refused," the officials "recognize we could have handled the situation differently."
The Academy is also reportedly preparing for an April 18 meeting that it has set after receiving Smith's expected written answer in the coming week.
In the meantime, during his show on Wednesday at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, Rock remarked to the crowd,
which greeted him with a reported three-minute ovation, that he was "still kinda processing what happened” and that “at some point” he will talk about “that s**t,” and “it will be serious, and it will be funny."
The AMPAS Board of Governors met also on Wednesday, just hours before Rock ascended the stage in Boston, and overwhelmingly voted to investigate the Smith-Rock case further.
The situation becomes even more curious against the backdrop of claims that the whole scandal was staged given that a new video from that evening, filmed from a different angle, shows Pinkett Smith supposedly laughing at Rock's joke after the slap.
After Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith's head while presenting an award, Smith stormed the Oscars stage and slapped him. As Smith went off the stage, Rock exclaimed, "Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me." And Pinkett Smith may be seen giggling at Rock's remark in the new video viewpoint, shot from behind her.
The majority of the exchange between Smith and Rock, however, was bleeped out of the live show as the actor returned to his seat.
Later, on Instagram, Smith issued a public apology to Rock over the physical incident, saying that his "behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable."
"Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally," he wrote. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
'I'd Made a Joke About Her Boyfriend'
Widely known for his quips and sarcastic humor, British comedian Ricky Gervais has not been left out of the controversy. At a standup performance earlier this week, he allegedly stated
that he would have made a joke about Pinkett Smith's "boyfriend" rather than her appearance.
"People were going, ‘What would have happened if Ricky Gervais had been doing it [hosting the Oscars]?’” Gervais began by telling the audience.
"Well, nothing, as I would not have made a joke about his wife’s hair. I would have made a joke about her boyfriend," he joked.
Apparently, Gervais was referencing Pinkett Smith's "entanglement" with musician August Alsina, 29, which she detailed on her “Red Table Talk” show in 2020.
Back then, Pinkett Smith revealed that she had a relationship with Alsina when she and her husband were separated. Later, the “Men in Black” star admitted that neither of them believed in "conventional marriage" and that they both had extramarital affairs while married.
On Twitter, Gervais had already made
a reference to the Oscars incident by retweeting a clip from “The Office,” which he originally co-created in the UK, that included a joke about alopecia, which Pinkett Smith suffers from.