Chris Rock Met with Childhood Bully Years Before Oscars Slap: I Told Him to 'Take Care'

"He was kind of ashamed and I gave him just a quick look, like, 'Hey, man, I hope you're doing well,' " Chris Rock said on The Howard Stern Show in 2020

Years before being slapped by Will Smith at the 94th Academy Awards, Chris Rock recalled reuniting with his childhood bully as an adult.

"I was doing a movie a couple years ago and one of my bullies was working security on the movie — a guy who literally, one day at school, turned me upside down and shook the money out of my pockets," the comedian, 57, said on The Howard Stern Show in September 2020.

Rock said his former bully "was kind of ashamed" upon coming across Rock in the present, but Rock "just gave him a quick look, like, 'Hey, man, I hope you're doing well, take care,' and I kept it moving."

For more on the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident at the Oscars, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

"I didn't [say] like, 'Get him off the set, get him fired!' His sin has punished him," Rock told host Howard Stern.

The comedian went on to say that the man "could've been my friend — he could've been in the trailer with us watching The Godfather. The fact he had to go through that whole day, watch me walk around — I was directing the movie — and watch me be me in all my glory, and to be so close to me but yet so motherf---ing far, I didn't have to do anything."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories.

Chris Rock
Chris Rock. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Rock's incident with Will, 53, unfolded on Sunday, while the comedian was presenting Best Documentary Feature inside Los Angeles' Dolby Theatre and seized the moment to crack a few jokes, including one about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head.

He compared the 50-year-old actress' appearance to that of Demi Moore's look in G.I. Jane. Jada, who recently opened up about living with alopecia, was visibly unamused, rolling her eyes from her seat. Seconds later, Will walked onstage and approached Rock, smacking him in front of the audience and millions watching the telecast at home.

Back at his table, Will shouted to a stunned Rock, "Keep my wife's name out of your f---ing mouth." Will then remained seated with his wife at his table for the rest of the night. Rock has so far declined to press charges.

When Will won Best Actor later in the ceremony, he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but didn't mention Rock by name. In his tearful speech, he spoke about acting out of love and protection, saying, "Love makes you do crazy things."

Will went on to publicly apologize to Rock on social media the following day.

RELATED VIDEO: How Will Smith Smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars — and the Aftermath — Unfolded

On Monday, the Academy said in a statement that it "condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show" and that the organization has "officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law."

will smith
Neilson Barnard/Getty

Two months before the altercation, Rock expressed that he has let people "walk all over" him since his childhood, recounting being "bullied ridiculously" throughout that time in his life on the Jan. 12 episode of Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade.

"Half of the bullying was because I was just a little guy. Then I got bused to school and the bullying was because I was little guy and I was Black. I was getting double bullied," he said.

Rock went on to say he eventually resorted to taking matters into his own hands: "I went home, I put a brick in a book bag — this is like a legendary story in my neighborhood — I swung that s--- and smacked the guy in the face with this brick and stomped on him, Joe Pesci-style, to the point that we thought he might die."

Later on, with the help of therapy, Rock realized the long-term impact the event had on his life.

"Long story short, from that day on, as my shrink puts it to me, you have been scared to be angry ever since," he said. "The guy you saw was bending over backwards to be nice because I was so scared of my anger."

Related Articles