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Chris Rock’s brother offers up theory on Will Smith Oscars slap

In an interview with the podcast ‘Top Billin’ with Bill Bellamy’, Tony Rock has spoken about Smith’s assault on his brother at the Academy Awards in March.

FILE PHOTO: Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

On 27 March, the much anticipated Oscar Awards took place - and it was a ceremony in which Will Smith grabbed the headlines. He took centre stage twice: for his Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard, and for slapping Chris Rock on stage, live on TV. The incident came about after the comedian and actor made an unfortunate comment about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her alopecia.

The slap, which led the Academy to ban Smith from the Oscars for 10 years, has been discussed at length in the months since then - with even Pinkett-Smith among those to speak publicly, calling for a reconciliation between her husband and Rock. Everyone has spoken, except for Will Smith, who did issue a statement on social media apologising for his actions, and later checked into a rehab clinic.

Combination picture showing Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Academy Awards.
Full screen
Combination picture showing Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Academy Awards.BRIAN SNYDERREUTERS

Tony Rock: “He laughed first”

Now, almost four months later, the latest person to speak out is one of Rock’s brothers, Tony Rock, who has put forward his own theory about why Smith decided to walk on to the stage to hit his sibling. He has offered his take on the incident in an interview with the podcast ‘Top Billin’ with Bill Bellamy’.

Tony Rock feels Smith’s anger did not come from Chris Rock’s comment, but from Jada’s reaction: “He laughed first. So that’s not embarrassment. He was laughing. And then in the time they cut to my brother and cut back [to Smith], he was already up walking. So maybe it was the Jada look.”

A reaction to “soft” taunts

Smith’s reaction may also have been a response to a particular kind of jibe aimed at the Fresh Prince of Bel Air star over the years, Tony Rock added: “I think that slap was the accumulation of him being slapped on other levels. It was [related to claims that] he’s soft. He’s said it himself. He’s always hated the ‘soft’ moniker.”

Tony Rock also referred to the relationship that Pinkett-Smith had with Tupac, who she has repeatedly spoken about in glowing terms. As Smith has himself admitted, the late rapper is someone he has at times felt jealous about. “I’m not bringing up family stuff that people don’t know,” Tony Rock said. “This is stuff that everybody knows. She commonly talks about Tupac, her relationship with Tupac. As a man married to this woman, you’re like, ‘Damn, is what I’m doing not enough?’”


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