Los Angeles police were on site and ready to arrest actor Will Smith at the Academy Awards on Sunday for slapping presenter Chris Rock, the producer of the Hollywood ceremony said on Thursday.
The authorities did not take any action because Rock declined to press charges, producer Will Packer said, echoing what a police spokesperson said on Sunday.
“They were saying, you know, this is battery, was a word they used in that moment,” Packer said in excerpts from an interview that will air Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America.
“They said, we will go get him. We are prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now,” Packer added.
During the live Oscars telecast, Smith strode up to the stage after Rock made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife, then smacked the comedian’s face.
Less than an hour later, Smith gave a tearful speech on stage as he accepted the best actor trophy for his role in King Richard.
Behind the scenes, police were discussing options with Rock, Packer said.
Rock “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 added.
Representatives for Rock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Smith apologized to Rock, producers and viewers in a statement on Monday, saying he had “reacted emotionally”.
Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, made a reference to the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. It was unclear whether Rock was aware that Jada Pinkett Smith has a condition that causes hair loss.
A police spokesman said Sunday night that the individual involved in the incident had declined to press charges, but did not provide details about the interactions at the awards show.
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