Oscars Producer Will Packer Weighs in on Will Smith’s Apology to Chris Rock

Will Smith stepped into the spotlight twice at the 2022 Academy Awards. The second time was when he accepted the Oscar for best actor. The first time was when he walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock. Questions about what happened after the show lingered for weeks, and Smith finally gave a public apology four months later. Oscars producer Will Packer weighed in on Smith’s apology and expressed a desire to remember the ceremony for more than the slap.

Will Packer speaks during the Discovery Channel segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour; Will Smith attends the 'Concussion' movie premiere in 2015. Oscars producer Packer weighed in on Smith's Chris Rock apology video and reminded people the 2022 Oscars were historic without the slap.
(l-r) Will Packer; Will Smith | Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Jim Spellman/WireImage

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock took over the 2022 Oscars

What seemed like a light-hearted joke quickly led to the most shocking moment in Oscars history.

Rock joked that Jada Pinkett-Smith — who lives with alopecia — was looking good for her starring role in G.I. Jane 2. Will Smith laughed initially, but the good humor didn’t last. Seconds later, he strode on stage and slapped Rock, whose non-verbal learning disorder might have been why he didn’t try to avoid the blow

Smith tearfully accepted the Oscar for best actor moments later, but he retreated from the spotlight soon after. It took four months for Smith to address the Oscars slap publicly and in detail, and Academy Awards producer Will Packer liked what he saw from Smith.

Oscars producer Will Packer likes what he sees from the Smith apology video

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Oscars producer Packer said he thought Smith slapping Rock was part of a bit the two planned out. He revealed Rock never delivered any of the scripted jokes in the teleprompter, which points to larger issues at the Academy Awards.

The Smith-Rock incident dominated the 2022 Oscars show and made for weeks, if not months, of drama leading up to Smith’s apology video. Packer watched it like millions of others, and he liked what he saw.

“I love the fact that he’s being so transparent about his process,” Packer told Entertainment Tonight. “Clearly, he is going through his own personal rehabilitation. I’m pulling for him. I’m pulling for him to continue his own process, but I think this is for him. He needs to do it. I’m wishing you the best, brother.”

Packer also pointed out he’s not siding with Smith, saying, “I would just say I love both of those brothers, and I’m pulling for them.”

Smith ultimately didn’t spend much time in his apology video actually saying sorry to Rock. He talked about himself for much of the time, which is one reason the apology missed the mark. Yet Packer praised Smith for owning up to his actions and being up front about his path toward reconciliation with Rock.

Packer hopes people remember the Academy Awards for more than the Smith-Rock incident

Smith slapping Rock dominated the headlines coming out of the 2022 Oscars, but Packer told ET there were other memorable moments during the show.

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“People always talk about that [slap], but I hope that over time people will realize it was an energetic, diverse, history-making Oscars ceremony,” he said.

CODA, an AppleTV+ exclusive, won for best picture and became the first streaming movie to take the award. Troy Kotsur, who almost quit acting before starring in CODA, became the first deaf man to win an Oscar.

Ariana DeBose made history as the first Afro-Latina and openly queer actor of color to win an Academy Award. Billie Eilish became the first person born in the 21st century to win an Oscar.

Will Smith’s slap dominated the show, and Oscars producer Will Packer was pleased to see him apologize. Still, in Packer’s eyes, the one incident shouldn’t overshadow a historic ceremony.

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