As conflicting accounts emerged Thursday in the aftermath of Sunday's Oscars dust-up, TMZ reports that Will Smith was never asked to leave the Oscars.
According to TMZ, Oscars producer Will Packer told the actor he could stay at about 8 p.m., roughly 35 minutes after he hit comedian Chris Rock in the face and five minutes before he won his first Academy Award for his performance in “King Richard.”
Speaking Thursday morning on ''The View," host and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gov. Whoopi Goldberg said that Smith was asked to leave, but no attempt was made to physically remove him because academy leaders were afraid he was having a “manic” episode.
According to Goldberg, the academy feared that attempts to forcibly remove him could have resulted in an on-air struggle.
“I think that he was asked to leave,” Goldberg said. “Picture — they come back from break, now if [Smith] is in some sort of state and he's struggling and you're trying to get him out the door and it's still on camera.”
Goldberg was not at the awards show and emphasized that she was not speaking on behalf of the academy's board of directors.
In a statement on Wednesday, the academy said that Smith had violated its code of conduct and that he had ignored a request from body President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson to leave after the incident.
Dolby Theatre audience members were stunned Sunday when Smith strode across the Oscars stage and hit Rock in the face after the comedian joked about Smith’s wife’s hair loss.
In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the academy but didn’t apologize to Rock.
Initially laughing off the assault, Smith wrote on Instagram on Sunday night, “You can't invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!”
As the seriousness of the situation sunk in, Smith posted a public apology to Instagram the next day, saying his behavior was “unacceptable and inexcusable” and that he was “embarrassed.”
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
In his first public response to Sunday’s incident, Rock told the audience at his sold-out comedy show Wednesday night in Boston that he was “still processing” the attack.
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