For the first time ever, Chris Rock has finally addressed the now-infamous slapping incident between him and Will Smith at the 94th Academy Awards last month.
Rock directly referenced the slap during his sold-out show at Baltimore’s Lyric Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 22nd. He, however, only talked about it for a few seconds and quickly moved on with his set.
“I’m alright. I’m alright. Healed from the nicks and bruises…for the most part,” Rock said at the beginning of his set, according to WJZ-TV reporter Annie Rose Ramos, as reported by ComicBook.com.
Though Rock only addressed the Oscars slap once during his hour-and-a-half-long set in Baltimore, the standup comedian had previously suggested that he may be open to offers from networks for his first sit-down interview since the slap.
“I’m OK, I have a whole show and I’m not talking about that until I get paid,” Rock said, according to a Palm Springs Desert Sun report published on April 9th. “Life is good. I got my hearing back.”
During an interview with South Carolina station WIS-TV’s Soda City Live on April 22nd, Rock’s mom, Rose, said she was “hurt” when Smith slapped her son on live television at this year’s Oscar ceremony.
“When Will slapped Chris, he slapped all of us, but he really slapped me,” Rose said. “Because when you hurt my child, you hurt me.”
The 77-year-old motivational speaker went on to admit that she initially believed the slap was staged until Smith “started with the obscenities.”
“No one even heard his speech. No one was able to just be in the moment because everyone was sitting there like, ‘What just happened?’,” added Rose, who was not in attendance at the event. “I was not [at the Oscars] this time. [So] I couldn’t reach out to him (Rock) at that point, there was nothing to do and that’s a hard thing for a mother. No matter how old they are, they’re still your babies.”
Rose said that she had “no idea” what she would say to Smith if given the chance except: “What in the world were you thinking?”
“You did a slap, but so many things could’ve happened from that,” she explained. “Chris could’ve stepped back and fallen. You really could’ve been taken out in handcuffs. You didn’t think. You reacted to your wife (Jada Pinkett Smith) giving you the side-eye and you went up and made her day because she was bowled over laughing when it happened.”
Will Smith resigns from the Academy
On April 1st, Smith resigned from the Academy in response to a disciplinary hearing notice from the organization. “I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” the Oscar-winning actor said in his resignation address. “My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”
Smith continued, “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
A week after Smith’s resignation, the Academy announced that the actor is banned from attending Academy-related events for the next 10 years. Smith, however, is still eligible for Oscar nominations and wins, despite his inability to attend the ceremony.