Kenny Rock, Chris Rock’s brother, railed against Will Smith and the Academy in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times. Kenny said his brother was not aware of Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia prior to making a joke at the Oscars about her bald head while presenting the documentary feature category. The joke led Smith to come up on stage and slap Rock.
“The joke was funny,” Kenny Rock said. “It wasn’t hilarious funny, but I know that if he knew that she had alopecia … he wouldn’t make a joke about that. But he didn’t know.”
Kenny criticized the Academy for not immediately removing Smith from the Oscar ceremony after the slap. “He should have been escorted out of there,” he said. “I hold them accountable for that. He could have went up there and did anything you wanted to my brother. It could have been much worse than what he did.”
Oscars co-producer Will Packer said he did not urge the Academy to forcibly remove Smith because it’s not what Chris Rock wanted, although various reports have disputed this claim. Smith stayed at the ceremony and around 40 minutes after the slap was awarded the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard.” Smith apologized to the Academy for the incident in his best actor acceptance speech, but he did not apologize to Chris Rock directly at the time.
“I might have looked at it differently had he initially apologized when he got on the stage and cried and accepted the award, but he didn’t, so, right there that tells me that it is something else,” Kenny Rock said.
Smith issued an apology to Chris Rock the night after the Oscars, but Kenny told the Times, “No, I don’t accept it because I don’t think it was genuine. I think his publicist and the people that work under him probably advised him to do that.”
“It eats at me watching it over and over again because you’ve seen a loved one being attacked and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Kenny Rock said about the slap. “Every time I’m watching the videos, it’s like a rendition that just keeps going over and over in my head. My brother was no threat to him and you just had no respect for him at that moment. You just belittled him in front of millions of people that watch the show.”
As reported by the Times: “In the wake of the incident, Kenny Rock said he would like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to take disciplinary action against Smith, including taking away his lead actor Academy Award for his performance in ‘King Richard,’ and bar him from attending future Oscars.”
Smith resigned from the Academy on April 1. In a statement announcing his resignation, Smith wrote, “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”