Will Packer says that he is “pulling” for Will Smith following the actor’s recent Instagram video statement over his behavior at the 2022 Oscars ceremony, during which he slapped Chris Rock on the Dolby Theatre stage.
In a new interview with Entertainment Tonight on the carpet of the producer’s new film The Beast, Packer shared his thoughts on Smith’s video apology to Rock and his family, his fellow Oscars attendees and his family.
The video also featured Smith answering commonly floated questions about his actions during and after the annual awards show, with him opening up about what fueled his decision to slap Rock after the Oscars presenter and comedian made an unscripted comment about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald hairstyle ahead of announcing the best documentary winner.
“I love the fact that he’s being so transparent about his process,” Packer said of Smith’s video statements. “Clearly, he is going through his own personal rehabilitation.”
In the video, Smith denies Pinkett Smith was behind his split-second decision to physically confront Rock and addresses how his actions at the ceremony left him feeling “deeply remorseful.”
“Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me,” Smith explained. “I’m a human and I made a mistake, and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”
Packer went on to say that following the video he was pulling for both Rock and Smith, and wishing the Oscar winner and King Richard star the best. “I’m pulling for him to continue his own process, but I think this is for him. He needs to do it.”
Packer is the latest voice discussing Smith’s actions following the release of the video. The actor’s daughter, singer Willow Smith, also recently spoke about the Oscars incident in a profile with Billboard, telling the magazine that what happened didn’t “rock me as much as my own internal demons” but that because of the high-profile and highly visible position her family is in, “our humanness sometimes isn’t accepted, and we’re expected to act in a way that isn’t conducive to a healthy human life and isn’t conducive to being honest.”
Packer also addressed how he feels about the way the 2022 Oscars ceremony, which he was a producer of, has been remembered. The Hollywood filmmaker and mind behind Will Packer Productions is hoping that with time, the show will be remembered for its historic moments beyond the Smith-Rock slap.
“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. “A lot of energy went into it. I’m very prideful of it.”
Packer previously spoke about the ceremony and slapping incident in an interview with Good Morning America just days after it happened. At the time, the first-time Oscars producer said that he didn’t realize the slap wasn’t a bit until Rock came backstage and confirmed Smith had actually slapped him, and ultimately regretted not removing the actor from the ceremony once that had been confirmed.
“I think what many of us were hoping is that he would go on that stage and make it better. It couldn’t be made right in that moment, because of what happened,” he says. “But I think we were hoping that he would stand on that stage and say, ‘What just happened minutes ago was absolutely and completely wrong. Chris Rock, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.’ That’s what I was hoping for. I felt like he was going to win, and I was hoping that if he stayed, he [would say] that.”