Chris Rock explains why he didn’t hit Will Smith back at the Oscars

Comedian says parents taught him not to ‘fight in front of white people’

Tom Murray
Tuesday 07 March 2023 03:53 GMT
'It still hurts': Chris Rock finally addresses Will Smith slap in Netflix show

Chris Rock has a response for those who asked why he didn’t hit Will Smith back at the Oscars ceremony last year.

The comedian addressed the infamous slap head-on, in-depth in his live Netflix special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, which arrived on the streamer on Sunday (5 February).

Smith stormed the stage at the 94th Academy Awards after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia.

“A lot people go, ‘Chris how come you didn’t do nothing back? How come you didn’t do nothing back that night?’” Rock told the Baltimore Hippodrome Theatre audience. “Because I got parents, that’s why. Because I was raised.”

He added: “And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”

Elsewhere in the special, Rock blamed Pinkett Smith for allegedly “starting” their feud.

According to Rock, the Girl’s Trip actor attempted to force him to quit hosting the Oscars in 2016 because her husband didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for Peter Landesman’s sports drama, Concussion.

Chris Rock at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore
Chris Rock at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore (Kirill Bichutsky/Netflix)

“Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars. I shouldn’t host ‘cause her man didn’t get nominated for Concussion. And then he gives me a f***ing concussion,” Rock quipped.

The comedian also said in the special: “I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life. And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whipped.”

Smith plays an escapee Louisiana slave in the 2021 drama directed by Antonie Fuqua.

Following the 2022 Oscars, in which Smith won Best Actor for his titular role in King Richard, the actor was banned as a member of the Academy for 10 years, and will not be permitted to attend the 2023 ceremony.

In his first late-night talk show appearance since the Oscars fiasco, Smith told The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that he was “going through something that night”, attributing his actions to “bottled rage”.

This year’s Oscars ceremony takes place on 12 March.

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