We knew, the moment it happened, that the ramifications of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars would extend out for a period of time, but I’m not sure any of us could have predicted how long the conversations regarding The Slap would last. Rock declined to address the matter at his standup events, leaving the door open for everyone from Ricky Gervais to Shaquille O’Neal to weigh in on what happened… and what happens next. Well, following a call from Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, for Chris Rock and Smith to “talk this out and reconcile,” the former SNL star and mainstream comic has let his feelings be known. Basically, Smith shouldn’t be sitting by his phone.
While Chris Rock remains silent on the matter – at least in the public eye – a source close to Rock told ET Online the following:
As well he should. One of the healthiest ways to work through a very public event like that would be to keep working. And for Chris Rock, thankfully, he had a comedy tour on his schedule following the Academy Awards, so he was able to get right back into his comfort zone – namely, being on a stage and making jokes. And, hopefully, not getting struck by an audience member for the words that he uses.
So many curious onlookers paid close attention to Chris Rock’s first few show following the Oscars, wondering if he’d address The Slap in any way. And while Rock largely danced around the whole topic, promising that he’s mainly waiting to talk about it “until I get paid,” the onus has been on the Smith’s to stay on defense and explain Will Smith’s actions.
The impromptu slap has cost Smith dearly. The Bad Boys star resigned from the Academy in the aftermath of the controversy, and several projects he had been working on were shelved, even though Sony still swears that Bad Boys 4 remains in pre-production. These delays can allow Will Smith time to continue the self-imposed “spiritual journey” he claims that he is on. Even in the explanation that Jada Pinkett Smith gave during her Red Table sessions, she explains that she and Will are continuing to figure out that thing called life. Aren’t we all, Jada?
Chris Rock might be tipping his hand towards what his future plans could be. If he’s really smart (and Chris Rock definitely is), he plans some type of high-profile interview – get Oprah Winfrey on the phone – and he pay-per-views that conversation. We’d all pay top dollar to finally, officially, hear Rock’s response to the Will Smith slap. Or, if he continues to work references to The Slap into his stand up, he might end up with another hour of material that could fuel a second stand up special, in addition to the one that he’s currently bringing with him on tour. For now, the ball is on Rock’s court. We’ll see how he plays it.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.