Chris Rock

Chris Rock

Date of birth: 07-02-1966
Born in South Carolina, but raised in Brooklyn, Chris Rockstarted hanging out on the New York comedy club circuit when he was still an adolescent.

He was performing at the New York Comedy Strip in about 1984, when Eddie Murphy caught his act and identified him as an rising star, even though he was still a teenager. Murphy cast Rock in Beverly Hills Cop II, in a small role as a parking valet, but it helped him land a couple more minor supporting roles, and eventually a spot on NBC's Saturday Night Live, which he was on from 1990 to 1993. During his SNL stint, Rock also sometimes guest-starred in Keenan Ivory Wayans' sketch series In Living Color.

In 1991, Rock landed his first dramatic screen role, as a naive crack addict-cum-informant in Mario Van Peebles' New Jack City. Other early film roles have included a hot-headed law enforcement agent in 1998's Lethal Weapon 4 , a bitter an apostle of Jesus in Kevin Smith's 1999 film Dogma, and an obnoxious foul-mouthed hitman in Neil La Bute's controversial black comedy Nurse Betty in 2000.

Rock recorded his first HBO special, Big Ass Jokes, in 1996. But he established himself as a major stand-up force with his second special Bring the Pain in 1996, which earned him two Emmy awards and substantially widened his appeal. The same year, he received a third Emmy for his work as a writer and correspondent for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.

In 1997, HBO signed Rock for an edgy sketch series, The Chris Rock Show, that ran until 2000. During that run, Rock published his autobiography Rock This! (in 1998) and recorded his third HBO special, Bigger & Blacker (in 1999). His four special, Never Scared, debuted in 2004.

In 2001, Rock wrote and starred in the film Down to Earth, a remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and again in Pootie Tang, a spin-off from The Chris Rock Show. He also directed, co-wrote and starred in 2003's Head of State as an unlikely presidential candidate for the Democratic party. In 2007, Rock added producer to the credits as he wrote, directed and starred in the sex comedy I Think I Love My Wife, a remake of Eric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon!. Rock has also lent his voice to one of the characters in Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, and Marty the Zebra in Madagascar (2005) and its 2008 sequel.

Although his film outings have never really matched his stand-up for success and critical acclaim, his TV profile was boosted by the semi-autobiographical sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, that debuted in September 2005. Written and produced by Rock, who also provides a voiceover, Tyler James Williams plays a younger version of the comedian, during his schooldays in the early Eighties.

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Will Smith smacks Chris Rock at the Oscars

Actor reacts to a joke about his wife's hair loss

Will Smith hit Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars after the comedian make a joke about his wife’s alopecia.

Jada Pinkett Smith shaved her head after suffering hair loss, prompting Rock to quip: ‘Jada, can't wait for GI Jane 2’.

Smith then strode on stage and hit Rock in the face in what will go down as one of the most memorable moments in Academy Awards history.

A-listers in the audience at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles initially believed the incident had been a planned sketch, but when Smith returned to his seat he shouted: ‘Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth,’ making clear this was no joke.

By this point, broadcaster ABC had pulled the live feed.

Just minutes later, Smith was back on stage to receive the Oscar for best actor for his  role as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard. In a tearful speech he apologised to the Academy – but pointedly not to Rock.

‘I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to my all my fellow nominees,’ he said.

‘Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world…

‘I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know, to do what we do, you've got to be able to take abuse.  You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you've got to be able to have people disrespecting you, and you've got to smile, you've got to pretend like that's OK.

‘What I loved was, Denzel [Washington] said to me a few moments ago, he said, "At your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you." I want to be a vessel for love…

‘Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.’

And he ended his speech by saying: ‘ I hope the Academy invites me back. Thank you.’

Rock's joke referred to 1997 film GI Jane, in which Demi Moore played the title role with a severe buzzcut.

When Smith first approached him, Rock chuckled: ‘Uh-oh!’ but looked stunned after the punch was thrown. ‘Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,’ he replied.

The response elicited some laughs from the room, but when Smith made his comments from his seat, making it clear this was no scripted skit, the atmosphere changed into stunned silence.

‘Wow, dude! It was a GI Jane joke,’ Rock responded.

After an awkward pause Rock composed himself and said: ‘That was the greatest night in the history of television.’ And he continued to present the for best documentary feature as planned.

Presenting the next award, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs said: "Will and Chris, we're going to solve that like family. Right now we're moving on with love.’

The Los Angeles Police Department later told Variety that Rock had declined to file a police report, while Oscars organisers The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, tweeted that it "does not condone violence of any form’.

Rock had previously made a wisecrack about Pinkett Smith when he hosted the 2016 Academy Awards – which the actress had boycotted over the  lack of diversity in the nominations. He joked: ‘Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties - I wasn't invited!

Here’s the speech in full:

The statement issued by the Los Angeles Police Department read: 'LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.'

Rock is playing some UK dates in May. Chris Rock tour dates.

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Published: 28 Mar 2022

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