Marlon Wayans shared his reaction to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards as a guest on The Breakfast Club on Thursday (April 21). Speaking with the hosts, the comedian opened up about having personal relationships with both men.
“They’re both friends of mine,” Wayans explained. “It was hard for me. It was like watching two brothers fight. It’s hard for me because I’ve known Will 20 years. I’ve known Chris Rock since I was 12. For me, I was just like, ‘Yo.’ I didn’t know what transpired. I felt bad ’cause I’m a brother. As a brother, I felt bad for Tony Rock and Jordan. ’Cause now, Will doing that, you are questioning my loyalty.”
He continued to offer reasons why the slap should not have happened for reasons beyond brotherhood, citing Chris Rock’s size compared to Will Smith’s and both men’s acting resumes.
“You can’t hit Chris over a joke. That’s Chris. Chris cracks jokes, that’s what he does and he too small. You play action movies, I Am Legend, you doing behind-the-back pushups, pull-ups, and lifting weights,” he said, acting out the exercise motions. “Chris plays crackheads. The heaviest thing this n***a ever lifted was a crack pipe in New Jack City. Why would you hit little Chris Rock? Now, if Will slapped The Rock, I’d be like, ‘That n***a gangsta.’ You can’t hit little Chris Rock. Like I said, that’s hard for me ’cause I love them both.”
Wayans later added how he believes the incident will impact Chris Rock’s career.
“What happened and transpired, I know Chris is hurt and he’s humiliated. But from this, he will be better. There’s nothing greater for a comedian than humiliation. Because learning to deal with that, now you come out the gate, now you got these jokes, now you’re building a bigger, better, you.”
Since the live televised slap, Will Smith has withdrawn from the Academy, issued a social media apology to Chris Rock, and been banned from Academy events for the next decade. Chris Rock has yet to speak directly about the slap in public, only vaguely referencing the elephant in the room during a recent comedy show.
Watch Marlon Wayans’ full conversation on The Breakfast Club below.