Chris Rock speaks out about Oscars slap in comedy special

BySandy Kenyon KABC logo
Friday, March 10, 2023
Chris Rock speaks out about Will Smith Oscars slap
One year after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, the comic has responded in the best way he knows how: through a comedy special. Sandy Kenyon has the details.

One year after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, the comic has responded in the best way he knows how: through a comedy special.

Rock's special was streamed live in early March from Baltimore on Netflix.

Though Smith has repeatedly apologized and often says he regrets the incident, the man he struck has turned down every interview request since. Rock prefers to respond on stage.

Rock told the Baltimore audience that he took the hit like a prizefighter at last year's award show, and the comedian joked his ears are still ringing.

He wants everyone to know he's no victim, which is why his response is part of a $40 million deal with Netflix.

It was truly the slap heard 'round the world, but the guy on the receiving end is hitting back.

FULL LIST: Check out all nominations before 2023 Oscars this Sunday

For those who were at the Oscars during that moment, it was no laughing matter.

Jay Rosenblatt was in the audience as an Oscar nominee.

"We were only like, I would say, 30 feet from it," Rosenblatt said. "It was kind of unnerving, disturbing. We were just in shock. It did overwhelm everything that came before, which is a shame."

Minutes later, Smith won the Oscar as best actor, but the damage to his career became apparent with the release of his next movie.

"It would be naive to say that what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock last year didn't negatively affect that film's Oscar chances and yeah, its reception," Vanity Fair staff writer Chris Murphy said.

Murphy notes that the Academy responded by banning Smith from the Oscar show for 10 years.

"The Academy CEO said that for the first time in 95 years, they've hired a crisis team to be onsite at the Oscars, to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again," Murphy added.

The idea, says CEO Bill Kramer, is to absorb the lessons learned.

"We're committed to being much more swift in our actions and compassionate in our actions," Kramer said.

With distance comes perspective, which is exactly what the man who was hit tried to provide on Saturday night.

"What makes it such a good move is that he's in complete control of the narrative. He doesn't have to answer to anyone or address anything that he doesn't necessarily want to address. Because, it's his stand-up show. He's in control. He's got the mic. It's his stage," Murphy said.

Rock got plenty of licks during his show. You can expect Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel to have a few words to say about it too at the big Academy Awards show on Sunday.

Mark your calendar: March 12 is Oscar Sunday. The 2023 Oscars air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information. Click here to download our CTV apps to watch "On The Red Carpet" wherever you stream.

This report was originally published on March 5.