Chris Rock’s 1997 Interview with Jada Pinkett Smith Was All About Will Smith

Chris Rock might be well known in the world of movies. After all, the comedian has starred in many films over the years and even directed a few. But he first gained mainstream fame for his work on TV, including Saturday Night Live and HBO’s The Chris Rock Show. On the latter, Rock once interviewed Jada Pinkett Smith. But it’s ultimately revealed that the entire conversation was secretly all about her husband, Will Smith, the whole time.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, and Will Smith pose at an event
Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, and Will Smith | Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage

Chris Rock hosted an HBO talk show in the 1990s

From 1990 to 1993, Rock served as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. After some memorable TV appearances — including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — the comedian landed his own talk show on HBO. Like Chappelle’s Show, The Chris Rock Show featured a blend of sketch comedy, stand-up, interviews, and musical guests.

The Emmy-winning show ended after five seasons. But during its run, Rock welcomed an all-star line-up of guests, including a performance from Prince in the first episode. However, in the aftermath of the infamous Oscars slap, it’s the interview with Rock and Pinkett Smith that most fans might be surprised to discover in 2022.

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Jada Pinkett Smith’s interview centered on Will Smith

Pinkett Smith stopped by The Chris Rock Show on December 12, 1997 to promote her role in Scream 2. Rock even asks her at one point about the size of her role, to which Pinkett Smith quips “don’t blink.” The actor’s character is famously killed off dramatically in Scream 2‘s opening sequence. Rock and Pinkett Smith also discuss how she chooses projects and her activism before suddenly an alarm of some kind goes off.

“Is that it?” Rock asks someone off-screen. “You’re not going to believe this. Jada Pinkett, you win a bottle of champagne. You know why? Because you just did an interview without mentioning the name Will Smith.” The two stars were married later that very month. And the media had presumably been buzzing about their relationship, hence Rock’s gag. Pinkett Smith laughs it off but almost jokingly calls the prank “terrible” before the segment ends.

Where do Chris Rock and the Smiths stand in 2022?

Less than a decade later, Rock and Pinkett Smith would co-star in the animated Madagascar films. Rock voices a zebra named Marty, and Pinkett Smith plays a hippopotamus named Gloria. But since the last entry in the franchise — 2012’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted — there’s been little indication that the two remain friendly.

They’ve made headlines a couple of times over the years, most often during Rock’s jokes. The comedian poked fun at both Pinkett Smith and her husband at the 2016 Academy Awards. And of course, Smith’s infamous 2022 slap of Rock — following a joke about Pinkett Smith, no less — leaves the three actors’ relationship in a precarious place.

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