Terry Crews is weighing in on Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock onstage during the 2022 Oscars ceremony.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter to promote his new memoir Tough, the “America’s Got Talent” host shared his belief that “the punishment did not fit the crime” when it came to Smith’s actions.
“Both Will Smith and Chris Rock are dear, dear friends of mine. I love them both as brothers, but there was a time in my life [where] I was Will Smith at that moment, and let me tell you, I’ve done worse than Will,” Crews said, saying he understands both his “Everybody Hates Chris” colleague Rock and Smith’s positions.
Speaking about a time when he overreacted while feeling “disrespected”, Crews shared his actions were “way overkill, just… the punishment did not fit the crime. Like, people were like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ My wife even had to be like, ‘You got to promise me you will never go off like this. You did not need to pick this man up and put him on his head, on the concrete.’ The minute I did it, I regretted it. I was like, ‘Why did I do this?’ I couldn’t control myself. I literally had no control. If the wind went right, I was going right. If the wind went left, I was going left.”
Crews also recalled an incident when he went off on an autograph seeker who made a comment about his pregnant wife.
Crews clarified his remarks about the “punishment not fit[ing] the crime” was in direct reference to his own past behaviour — not Smith’s Academy ban.
This is clickbait.
I was never referring to the Academy's decision with this statement. I was citing the violence I inflicted upon others when I felt disrespected.
— terry crews (@terrycrews) April 23, 2022
Crews also referenced his alleged assault by an agent, which he said gave him empathy for what Rock endured and the grace with which he handled it.
“And it wasn’t until I was Chris Rock literally in that moment — when I was assaulted by agent Adam Venit — and I chose to be in control. I chose to hold everything together. It could have descended into chaos. It would’ve been the end of me,” he said.
“When I look back, by what Chris did, by just deciding to hold everything together, it actually, I think in a lot of ways saved Hollywood,” Crews continued. “Because if there would’ve been a brawl on that stage, I don’t know if Hollywood would’ve ever gotten any respect again, you know? It’s hard to even imagine what would’ve happened.”
Crews shared his admiration for Rock for “taking a punch and then holding everything together and then showing tremendous endurance and resilience in the middle of obstacles. I think it was a miracle what Chris did. I really do. I couldn’t believe his poise in that moment. I thought, holy cow, we owe him a lot. I think every performer owes him so much because it just really saved Hollywood in that moment.”
However, Crews admitted he can see both points of view.
“I’m very thankful to Chris, but also I understand Will,” he added. “I’m not [one] to demonize Will at all because I was there. And that’s where I stand and I think it’s a perfect time to have this conversation and to really get upfront and close with these things that have always plagued us. I mean, it’s just one thing that travels in politics and sports and Hollywood, it’s that ability for people to just go off for no reason and not even understand why they’re doing it. Especially when I look at the way I was and to where I am now, another reason I had to reveal a lot is because you had to see where I was to understand where I am now. I have people now that can’t even imagine the things I did in the book that look at me and I’m like, ‘Hey man, that was me. And I have to let you know.’ And this is the same place I feel Will is in, and because people still are trying hard to rectify the Will Smith they knew with that person that was there at the Academy Awards, but he’s the same person, you know what I mean? We all have to understand that that could be any of us.”