Will Smith left Sunday's Oscars ceremony with the Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard, but he could have left in handcuffs.
In his first interview since the awards show, Oscars producer Will Packer told Good Morning America that Chris Rock, whom Smith slapped during a shocking moment of the broadcast, had been adamant Smith not be punished by police.
"They were saying, 'This is battery,' was the word they used in 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,'" Packer said in a part of the interview that was previewed on Thursday's edition of World News Tonight With David Muir. "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, I'm fine.' He was like, 'No, no,' even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let ‘em finish.’ The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were, and they said, you know, 'Would you like us to take any action?' And he said no. He said no."
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement Monday that the victim had declined to file a police report.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday that it had asked Smith to leave after he approached the stage and hit Rock for telling a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock's joke had been about her shaved head, and she has said that she chose that look because she suffers from hair loss. In addition to slapping Rock, Smith also yelled at him, "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth!" Officials said that he refused to leave.
However, sources told Variety and TMZ that Smith was never formally asked to exit the ceremony, where he later won the Best Actor award. According to them, the people overseeing the event were divided about what should happen, and that Packer actually told Smith that the Academy wanted him to stay.
Packer seemed to refute that, with the producer saying that he "did not speak to Smith directly at all the night of the Oscars." The full sit-down is scheduled to air Friday on Good Morning America.
While he's off the hook legally, Smith could face serious repercussions. In their Wednesday statement, Academy officials said they had launched a formal review into what happened at its most high-profile event of the year. Smith could be suspended or even expelled. Acting union SAG-AFTRA is considering disciplinary action as well.
Just days later, Rock received a standing ovation at his first stand-up show since the Oscars.
"How was your weekend?" he teased the Boston audience. Noting that he was still processing what happened, he said that he didn't have any jokes about it yet.