Chris Rock may or may not choose to speak publicly about the dramatic moment everyone is still talking about from the Oscars on Sunday — when Will Smith came on stage and hit him on the faceafter Rock cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
While Rock has yet to comment publicly, the incident is calling fresh attention to comments Rock made recently about how a childhood altercation made him wary of confrontation.
“In my childhood, I was bullied ridiculously,” he said in January on the “Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade” podcast. “Half of the bullying was because I was just a little guy. And then I got bussed to school, so I was a little guy and I was Black.”
Rock, 57, said the “rough” bullying gave him a “weird temper,” and shared one anecdote about a violent incident from his youth.
“One day a guy really disrespected me really bad, like mushed me at a party … and pushed me and kind of, like, kicked sand on my face in front of girls,” he said.
Rock said he went home and put a brick in a book bag, then came back to the party and swung it in the face of the guy who was bullying him. The guy was seriously injured “to the point we thought he might die,” Rock said.
“Long story short, from that day on, as my shrink puts it to me, ‘You have been scared to be angry ever since,’” he continued. “I was so scared of my anger.”
He also said he learned through therapy that he was so afraid of letting out his angry feelings that he “let the whole world walk over” him.
“‘Your friends walk over you, your family walks over, your female relationships … because it’s somewhere in there, they know there’s a force there holding you back,’” Rock recalls his therapist saying.
Recently, however, the comedian says he has been making progress on expressing his feelings constructively. In 2020, Rock said that he has been attending seven hours of therapy a week, where he’s worked on his emotions and a nonverbal learning disorder diagnosis.
“In the last year, now I can get angry. I’m not scared of letting people know how I feel about certain things,” he said. “So now, I can tell you, ‘Hey, I didn’t like what you said to me … without losing my head.’”
On Sunday, Rock was visibly stunned but got his emotions in check after Smith, 53, stormed onto the stage and slapped him across the face for making a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock compared Pinkett Smith — who suffers from alopecia and shaved her head last summer — to Demi Moore’s bald character from the film “G.I. Jane,” prompting the slap that stunned the audience and viewers worldwide.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!” Smith then shouted — twice — after returning to his seat.
Rock recovered quickly and continued with his set before leaving the stage.
Just minutes later, Smith scooped up the Best Actor Oscar for his role in “King Richard.”
Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees during his acceptance speech. At the time, he notably left out Rock’s name, but he has since issued a formal apology.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has begun “disciplinary proceedings” against Will Smith after he slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars on Sunday.
“The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” the statement said.
Additionally, Smith will receive 15 days notice of a vote as well as an opportunity to be heard by written response, and at the next board meeting scheduled for April 18, the Academy may take action that could include “suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”
In their statement, the Academy also said “Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”