Courtney B. Vance Compares Angela Bassett Story to Will Smith Slap: 'We're Not Going Down Like That'

Courtney B. Vance said a fan once "cussed [Angela Bassett] out" and tried "to provoke her" while following the couple at an airport

Courtney B. Vance is recalling a time when he had to encourage his wife Angela Bassett to "just keep walking."

During an appearance on Power 105.1 FM's The Breakfast Club last week, Vance, 62, discussed Will Smith striking Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards, and said he and Bassett, 63, once faced a situation where she considered responding to a stranger who approached them in baggage claim at an airport.

"[The fan] wanted an autograph. I said, 'It's not appropriate right now. Please give us our [privacy]. If you recognize us, then [others] will, and it'll be on,' " said Vance.

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

The actor said the fan then "cussed [Angela] out" and tried "to provoke her" as she continued to follow the couple at the airport.

"I said, 'Angie, just keep walking, baby. Just keep walking. We're going to our car. Just keep walking,' " Vance continued.

According to the 61st Street star, the fan then said, "I never liked your movies anyway!" Vance said the fan "wanted to provoke" Bassett to turn around and get "a reaction out of her," but he managed to persuade his wife otherwise.

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.

Courtney B. Vance (L) and Angela Bassett, Will Smith
Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett; Will Smith. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Sebastian Reuter/Getty

"You have to understand the situation and be able to sometimes know [when] it's time to step up and say, 'Don't you dare,' and sometimes you just gotta just walk away," he said.

"What we don't wanna see is Angela Bassett pimp-slapping [anybody]," Vance joked. "You ain't getting [a reaction]. We're not going down like that."

"We worked too hard for an incident that's just gonna be folklore in our mind," he added.

Will, 53, hit Rock in the face onstage at the Oscars on March 27, after the 57-year-old comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair.

RELATED VIDEO: Will Smith Resigns from the Academy After Smacking Chris Rock During Oscars: "I Am Heartbroken"

Will has since publicly apologized to Rock and admitted he was "wrong" for reacting emotionally in the moment. He announced Friday that he was resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences due to his behavior at the ceremony, where he won Best Actor.

"Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason," the King Richard star said.

During his Breakfast Club interview, Vance said in part of the incident, "That's the situation where you go, 'That's good, Chris. I'll talk to him later,' and let him know, 'Don't you ever, as long as you Black, put your mouth around my wife like that. That's between you and me.' "

" 'And nobody else has to know. I love you and I know you love me, [but] don't you ever disrespect our family again like that,' " he added.

Related Articles