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(Credit: NBC)

Film

Revisit the moment Will Smith and Chris Rock starred in 'Fresh Prince' together

@Russellisation

On Sunday, March 27th, a slap could be heard around the world. Taking to the stage at the 94th Academy Awards, Hollywood superstar Will Smith approached presenter Chris Rock and struck him across the face after an on-stage joke was aimed at his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Reverberating around the LA hills, the slap has become a major talking point and it has by no means been resolved, with Chris Rock still yet to talk publicly about the incident, as well as celebrities across the world having their say about the controversial moment. 

Whilst many are keeping their cards close to their chest, the Sonic the Hedgehog star Jim Carrey has been open and honest about his opinion, telling CBS’ Gayle King: “I was sickened. I was sickened by the standing ovation. Hollywood is just spineless en masse and it really felt like this is a really clear indication that we aren’t the cool club anymore”. 

Will Smith, Chris Rock and the slap that stang Hollywood

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With many believing there is unpublicised history between Smith and Rock that would have encouraged the outburst, others point to 2016 when the presenter and comedian once again aimed a public joke at Jada Pinkett Smith. Though, what is certainly unusual is that the two Hollywood icons are good friends, having starred alongside each other in the mockumentary Torrance Rises as well as Smith’s beloved TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In the admittedly outdated clip from the sixth and final series of the iconic show that made a household name of Will Smith, Rock appeared as two characters in the second episode, a famous comedian Maurice Perry and Perry’s sister, Jasmine. Finding himself having to take out Jasmine as a favour, Smith is embarrassed to be seen in public with Rock’s ‘ugly’ character, avoiding attention as best as he can at a club. 

The classic TV moment would spark the relationship between the Smith family and the comedian that has been constantly revisited long before the infamous moment at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

Jada Pinkett Smith appeared on The Chris Rock Show in 1997 to discuss the release of Scream 2 in which she stars. Jokingly celebrating the actor and not mentioning Will Smith throughout the whole interview, Rock presented Pinkett Smith with a bottle of champagne at the end of the show. Eight years after this, Rock and Pinkett Smith would once again appear together as Marty the Zebra and Gloria the Hippo in the animated Dreamworks movie, Madagascar.

Later in 2016, Rock made his first joke aimed at the actor, criticising her boycott of the Oscars, suggesting that she wouldn’t have been invited anyway. Responding to the joke over a week later, the actor stated, “It comes with the territory, we gotta keep it moving… We got a lot of stuff we gotta handle, a lot of stuff going on in our world right now. We gotta keep it moving”.

Quite how or when this public feud will end is not obvious, though it’s quite clear that this tension has been growing for years.