The Decades-Long History Behind Will Smith and Chris Rock's Beef

Jamie Lerner - Author

Mar. 28 2022, Published 10:16 a.m. ET

Chris Rock and Will Smith at 2022 Oscars
Source: Getty Images

One thing we can all agree on is that the 2022 Oscars ceremony was definitely a night to remember, even for the myriad of us who watch the broadcast from the comfort of our own homes — and even for those of us who don’t watch the Oscars at all, but saw the viral beef between Will Smith and Chris Rock plastered all over the internet.

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Basically, Chris made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith that Will did not like, so Will marched onstage to slap Chris. But as the moment continues circulating around social media, fans are wondering if the relationship between Will and Chris was already strained. What’s their history? Do Will Smith and Chris Rock have a long-standing beef?

Chris Rock and Will Smith at 2005 Kids Choice Awards
Source: Getty Images
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The beef between Chris Rock and Will Smith hit an all time high at the 2022 Oscars.

Here’s what we all know, and what we all saw: Chris Rock made a jab at Jada Pinkett-Smith at the 2022 Oscars. Chris joked, “Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2 — can’t wait to see it,” referring to Jada’s shaven head. At the time, Jada rolled her eyes at the joke while Will initially laughed. However, upon realizing that the joke was a dig at Jada’s alopecia, a condition that causes her to lose her hair, and that she was not laughing, Will marched onstage and slapped Chris in a violent outburst.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
Source: Getty Images
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Will continued his outburst verbally, shouting at Chris, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f--king mouth.” In the Oscars’ 94 years, never before has an altercation like that happened. Actors typically expect to get made fun of, especially the nominees.

However, in Will’s mind, Chris went too far with the joke. So while the joke may have been offensive to Jada, it begged the question to many at-home viewers who don’t personally know Will or Chris — is there some sort of long-standing beef between them?

Chris Rock and Will Smith do have a long-standing beef that goes back at least six years.

This isn’t the first time that Chris made a jab at Will and Jada on the Oscars stage. Back in 2016, Chris joked, “Jada Pinkett Smith went mad. Will Smith went mad. Everyone went mad … Jada said she's not coming, protesting. Isn't she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties — I wasn't invited."

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He continued on with the joke, “I understand you're mad – Jada's mad her man Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it. To tell the truth, I get it. It's not fair that Will was this good and didn't get nominated. It's also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West."

Chris Rock at the 2016 Oscars
Source: Getty Images
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In 2018, Chris took another opportunity to make a jab at Will on social media. Will shared a throwback photo of himself, his ex-wife Sheree Zampino, and their son to wish Sheree a happy birthday. “Happy Bday, Sheree. #BestBabyMamaEver! I love you, Ree-Ree,” Will wrote. Chris commented, “Wow. You have a very understanding wife.”

So Chris has been roasting Will for years, but that probably all started in good faith.

Chris Rock and Will Smith’s relationship goes back decades.

Chris and Will’s professional relationship began as castmates in Spike Jonze’s 1999 mockumentary, Torrance Rises. In Season 6 of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Chris guest starred as both a famous actor named Maurice Perry … and Maurice’s sister. In 2012, Will, Jada, and Chris were spotted together at an NBA game. Plus, don’t forget that Chris and Jada were castmates in all three Madagascar films.

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So it’s likely that the beef began by Chris just publicly poking fun at his friends. However, Will and Jada have been in the tabloids for the past few years thanks to rumors of an open marriage and infidelity. Between that and Jada’s alopecia, along with the gamut of many other jokes made at Will and Jada’s expenses recently, Chris’s joke may have been Will’s last straw.

Now we’re all just hoping Diddy really does solve Chris and Will’s beef like “a family at the Gold Party.”

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