The slap, seen by viewers across the world and instantly immortalized as one of the most notorious moments in 94-years of rich and varied Academy Awards’ history, is now almost 12-months old.
But for Chris Rock the memories are still fresh and the sting still felt after Will Smith took him to task – in the most public of arenas – for mocking wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia while hosting the Oscars at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre in 2022.
While Smith’s quiet withdrawal from public life in the immediate aftermath was coupled with a humble apology for Rock, the unsavory incident has provided rich and fertile ground for the controversial comic, whose new Netflix series appears to be founded on an array of stinging jokes aimed at the Hollywood star and his family.
Worse, it draws further attention to the widening chasm between an evidently bitter Rock, Smith and the actor’s wife, the comedian’s apparent rejection of Smith’s olive branch and the end of what was a solid 26-year friendship.
Appearing live from the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore – ironically the city of Pinkett Smith’s birth – Rock said he had been watching slavery drama Emancipation just to see Smith “get whooped,” cheering “hit him again” and “you missed a spot.”
My turn: Chris Rock has savaged former friends Will and Jada Pinkett Smith in his new Netflix show, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.
Slap: It’s been nearly one year since Jada’s husband of over 25 years Will Smith calmly walked on the Oscar stage and slapped Rock across the face, after he made a joke about her alopecia
Remorseful: Smith issued an apology following the incident, but Rock appears to have rejected the actor’s tentative olive branch in his new show (pictured: Will and Jada at the 94th annual Academy Awards in 2022)
Rock unleashed a year of pent-up rage after being slapped across the face by Smith in new stand-up comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.
The comic claimed that anybody who really knew about the circumstances surrounding the slap knew that it wasn’t actually about him — as he accused Smit of ‘selective outrage,’ lashing out because his wife had an affair.
He even brought up the fact that Pinkett Smith only confessed to having an affair while interviewing her husband and noted: ‘His wife was f****** her son’s friend.’
‘You all know what happened to me, getting slapped by Suge Smith. Everybody knows, everybody f****** knows,’ he began.
‘I got smacked at the f****** Oscars by this motherf*****. And people are like “Did it hurt?” It still hurts. I got Summertime ringing in my ear f***** drums.
‘But I’m not a victim, you will never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying you will never see it, like, “I couldn’t believe it and I love Men in Black.” No, it’s never going to happen.
Making fun: Part of the special featured Rock making fun of Pinkett Smith for asking him not to host the Oscars after he was snubbed for his performance in 2015’s Concussion
Never: The source close to Pinkett Smith disputes this, claiming, ‘She never asked Chris to not host ever. She publicly said in a Facebook post at the time Rock would be a great Oscars host’
Not a fan: Rock joked that he now watches Will Smith’s movie, Emancipation, ‘just to see him get whooped’
I took that hit like Pacquiao mother f*****,’ Rock said, referring to Manny Pacquiao, a professional boxer.
He noted that ‘Will Smith is significantly bigger than me. We are not the same size.
‘Will Smith does most of his movies with his shirt off. You’ve never seen me do a movie with my shirt off. If I’m in a movie getting open heart surgery, I’m in a sweater,’ Rock joked.
‘Will Smith played Mohammed Ali in a movie, you think I auditioned for that part? He played Mohammed Ali, I played Pookie in New Jack City. I played a piece of corn in Pootie Tang. S*** even in animation this motherf****** [is] bigger: I’m a zebra, he’s a shark.
‘But Will Smith practices selective outrage because everyone that knows what happened, everybody that really knows, knows I had nothing to do with that s***. I didn’t have any entanglements.
‘His wife was f***** her son’s friend.’
Controversial: During his stand-up special, Rock mentioned Smith’s marital problems
Let’s talk: Pinkett Smith had admitted to having an affair with singer August Alsina in an episode of her web-series with her husband in 2020
Face to face: The married couple sat opposite each other as they spoke about her affair in 2020
‘Now I normally wouldn’t talk about this s***,’ Rock said. ‘But for some reason these n****** put that shit on the Internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that f***** low down. What the f***.
‘We’ve all been cheated on, everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television, like “Hey I was sucking somebody else’s d***, how did that make you feel?” Why the f*** would you do that s***?’ he asked, referring to a sit-down interview Pinkett Smith gave her husband in 2020.
‘She hurt him way more than he hurt me, OK,’ Rock insisted, noting that following the slap: ‘Everybody in the world called him a b***.
‘I tried to call the motherf***** and give him my condolences. He wouldn’t pick up for me.
‘Everybody called him a b****,’ the comedian continued. ‘And who is he hitting? Me a n**** her knows h can be beat. That is some b**** a** s***. That I what the f*** happened, OK. I didn’t do nothing to this motherf*****.
‘Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars,’ Rock recounted, referring to 2016, when Jada was going to boycott the awards ceremony as part of the #OscarsSoWhite protests.
‘I shouldn’t host because her man did not get nominated for [Concussion], the biggest piece of s**** ever. She starts it, I finished it.
‘Nobody’s picking on this b****- she started it. Nobody was picking on her. And then this n***** gives me a f****** concussion, OK. What the f*** man?’
‘I love Will Smith, my whole life I loved this man – I watched him open for Run DMC at the Nassau Coliseum. I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life and now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whooped. Got me rooting for Masa.
‘A lot of people are like “Chris why didn’t you do nothing back?” Because I got parents that’s why, because I was raised,’ he concluded.
‘And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.’
Special: Still, Rock had yet to address the slap until the special, with sources now claiming that Smith has, ‘felt terrible for so long’ about the slap and has failed to make amends with Rock
Rock’s 26-year friendship with the couple is perhaps more convoluted than fans initially realised, with Pinkett-Smith having previously worked alongside the comedian in the animated Madagascar trilogy.
Rock and Pinkett-Smith travelled the world together for press junkets, movie premieres and red carpet appearances to promote three Madagascar films between 2005 and 2012.
The pair even presented the gong for Favorite Voice From An Animated Movie at the 2005 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, where Smith also performed.
Rock also appeared in a 1996 episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, the show that made Smith a household name.
His appearance included cameos as a fictional comedian named Maurice Perry as well as his sister Jasmine, who enjoys a date with Smith.
Years later, during the promo tour for Europe’s Most Wanted, the Grown Ups star complimented Will and Jada’s daughter Willow’s 2011 track, 21st Century Girl.
He told the couple, according to Fuse, ‘Hey, my kids listen to your kids!’
Rock’s friendship with the power couple was so firm that he once claimed his near-the-mark jokes would never be directed towards Smith, as well as Barack Obama and Brad Pitt.
He told CNN in 2009: ‘(Obama’s) just one of those guys, you know, like Will Smith. There’s no Will Smith jokes. There’s no Brad Pitt jokes.
‘You know, what are you going to say? “Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Aniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You’re such a loser.”
Wow! Rock’s turbulent 26-year friendship with the Smith’s includes co-star billings in Madagascar and The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Rock and Pinkett Smith are pictured at the 2005 Kids’ Choice Awards)
Hilarious: The comedian (right) also appeared in a 1996 episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, in which Smith (left) starred
Throwback: His appearance included cameos as a fictional comedian named Maurice Perry as well as his sister Jasmine, who soon enjoyed a date with Smith (pictured in 1996)
The feud appears to have deep roots in Rock’s Oscars hosting gig in 2016. a ceremony the Smith’s boycotted in protest at an apparent lack of ethnic diversity.
It marked the second consecutive year where people of colour had not been nominated, which sparked the #OscarsSoWhite movement hashtag.
Rock joked on stage of Pinkett Smith being her husband’s plus-one: ‘Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.’
Two years later, after Smith posted an Instagram birthday tribute to his ex-wife Sheree Zampino, Rock continued the feud by commenting: ‘Wow. You have a very understanding wife.’
He did not receive a reply.
Smith and Rock’s volatile episode at the 94th annual Academy Awards was sparked by the comedian sharing a joke about Pinkett-Smith’s bald head.
The gag was in reference to the 1997 film G.I. Jane, a role that actress Demi Moore famously shaved her head for – but it fell flat with Smith, who originally appeared to laugh along with the audience.
But as Smith laughed while still seated, Pinkett Smith – who has been open about her struggle with hair loss and alopecia – visibly rolled her eyes, looking furious.
‘That was a nice one!’ Rock announced, justifying his joke as a mild one.
Pals: The trio’s turbulent 26-year friendship is more convoluted than fans initially realised, with Pinkett Smith having starred alongside Rock in the Madagascar trilogy
Former pals: Rock and Pinkett Smith travelled the world together for press junkets, movie premieres and red carpet appearances to promote three Madagascar films (pictured in 2008)
Happier times: Rock’s friendship with the power couple was so firm that he once claimed his near-the-mark jokes would never be directed towards Smith (Pinkett Smith and Rock are pictured in 2012)
However, in the seconds that the camera had cut-away, Smith then jumped from his seat and stormed the stage as Rock was heard saying: ‘Uh-oh…’
This is when the world saw Smith approach Rock and promptly slap him across the face.
‘Wow,’ Rock could be heard saying after the assault. ‘Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.’
In footage that had been uncensored, Smith was heard saying: ‘Keep my wife’s name out your f***king mouth.’
Actress Lupita Nyong’o, who was seated near Smith, looked visibly confused at what had just happened as some audience members were left wondering if it had been part of some pre-arranged skit.
But as Rock made his foul-mouthed tirade, Nyong’o’s expression quickly changed.
Throwback: Rock lent his voice to Marty the Zebra while Pinkett Smith became Gloria the Hippo in the animated Madagascar film franchise (pictured in 2008)
The exchange was muted on a delayed telecast in much of the US, but was aired in full to some international audiences and overshadowed Smith winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Serena and Venus Williams’ father in biopic King Richard.
Later, Smith opened his acceptance speech with an emotional defense of his assault on Rock for mocking the short hair of Pinkett Smith, who suffers from a medical condition that causes hair loss.
‘Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,’ he said. ‘I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.’
Smith went on to issue a tearful partial apology for his emotional outburst, but did not apologize to Rock. ‘I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment,’ he said.
‘Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father’ said Smith. ‘But love will make you do crazy things.’
The Los Angeles Police Department later issued a statement saying that Rock had not filed a police report against Smith, but that if he chooses to do so, police will investigate.
‘LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,’ the statement said. ‘The incident involved one individual slapping another.’
It was not immediately clear whether the Academy would penalize Smith in any way for his outburst, but he was later banned from attending the ceremony for 10-years.
Sorry: In June 2022 Smith issued a groveling apology to Rock and revealed his former friend still hasn’t forgiven him for slapping him on-stage at the Oscars
Time for reflection: Smith said he’d spent the last three months ‘reflecting’ on his behavior and had come to realize how many people he hurt
In June 2022 Smith issued a groveling apology to Rock and revealed his former friend still hasn’t forgiven him for slapping him on-stage at the Oscars.
Smith said he’d taken the last three months to ‘work’ on himself and realized now how many people he hurt when he smacked Rock on stage at the awards.
‘I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk when he is, he will reach out. So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.’
He also apologized to Rock’s mother and his entire family, specifically Rock’s mother and his younger brother Tony.
‘I just didn’t realize how many people got hurt in that moment, so I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize.
‘I want to apologize to Tony Rock… Tony Rock was my man and this is probably irreparable,’ he said.
He also apologized to Pinkett Smith, his wife whose honor he claimed to be defending with the outburst, and said she had ‘nothing to do with it’.
‘I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment.
‘I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment.
‘There is no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.’
That must have hurt! Rock declined to pursue criminal charges against Smith after being struck by the actor on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles
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