Apparently, Will Smith was not asked to leave the Oscars after all?
Although The Academy released a statement saying that the “King Richard” actor “refused” to leave the Oscars ceremony after slapping Chris Rock, sources have told TMZ that Will Smith was never asked to leave by the Academy or anyone else.
If Will Smith Wasn’t Asked To Leave… Does That Mean The Academy Was Lying?
Sources told the outlet that a producer of the show said that Smith could stay and receive his first-ever Academy Award after the infamous slap seen around the world. According to sources who were allegedly present at the event, Academy officials met with Smith’s representatives backstage and had “heated conversations” about Smith’s outburst.
Some did want Smith to leave the ceremony, while others did not. Although there were several discussions during the commercial breaks, they never reached a consensus about what to do, which is why Smith stayed to receive his Oscar.
These sources say that Smith was well-aware that some wanted him to leave. Oscars producer Will Packer and another official with the Academy apparently went up to Smith and said, “We do not want you to leave” according to these sources.
These sources say that Packer approached Smith just after 8 PM local time, about 35 minutes after the slap occurred. Smith tearfully accepted his Best Actor Oscar about five minutes later.
What the outlet reported also tracks with what Whoopi Goldberg said on “The View” on Tuesday as she also mentioned Will Packer by name.
Whoopi Goldberg Seems To Back Comments Saying Will Smith Should Stay
She said that he was allowed to stay “because that would have been another fifteen, twenty-minute explanation about why we’re taking the Black man out five seconds before they’re about to decide whether he’s won an Oscar or not.”
“I believe [producer] Will Packer made the right decision, he said let’s get to the rest of this so we can deal with it wholeheartedly,” she continued. “This is not the first time craziness has happened on stage, but this is the first time we’ve seen anybody assault anybody on stage.”
“The thing I also need to tell people is that the reason no one got up to go comfort Chris is because they weren’t going to let anyone else on stage,” she added. “There were people there for Chris.” She explained that people had gone over to Smith because people wanted to make sure that he was okay.
“People thought, ‘Oh my god, is he having a break? Do we need to get him out? What do we need to do?’” she revealed.
The Academy Alleges That Will Smith ‘Refused’ To Leave The Ceremony
As The Blast previously reported, the Academy released a short statement on Wednesday to address the growing controversy.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” they said in a brief statement. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
Several stars reportedly spoke with Smith immediately after the incident, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper, and Tyler Perry.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy added. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
Whoopi has stated on “The View” that they do not plan on taking back Smith’s Academy Award, but both suspension and expulsion are among the disciplinary options they are considering.
The “Pursuit of Happiness” actor will have a chance to defend himself in a written statement before the board reassembles on April 18 to decide his punishment. Chris Rock declined to press charges against Smith on Sunday night, but there is still the possibility that he could do so in the future.