Richard Madeley didn’t hold back his feelings towards Chris Rock as he weighed in on the moment Will Smith punched him at this year’s Oscars, branding him ‘the most unpleasant celebrity I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet’.
The Academy Awards 2022 were thrown into chaos after Smith stormed the stage and hit Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
The shocking unscripted scene just minutes before the Fresh Prince star was named best actor at the ceremony.
Unpacking the situation on Monday’s Good Morning Britain, Madeley said he understood why Smith lashed out, although stressed he doesn’t condone violence.
He then went on to reveal he once interviewed Rock, describing him as ‘rude’ and ‘unlikeable’.
‘I was asked by GQ Magazine some years ago… he [Rock] was the most unpleasant person I’ve ever interviewed of my entire career, and that goes back to 1972 when I started at a local newspaper,’ Madeley began.
Will Smith hit Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife’s hair (Picture: Reuters)
‘I said, without hesitation, Chris Rock. It’s on the record, Chris Rock.’
Madely explained that he and his wife Judy Finnegan interviewed the comedian on their Channel 4 programme to tie in with the release of Madagascar.
‘It was a pre-recorded interview,’ Madeley continued. ‘If it had been live, we would have abandoned it. He was the most unpleasant, rude, aggressive, unlikeable person I’ve ever interviewed on camera, without question.
‘We edited around all the difficult bits and the interview that went out looked alright, but actually, his behaviour was awful. In my book, he’s the most unpleasant celebrity I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.’
Richard Madeley branded Rock the ‘most unpleasant celebrity’ he’s ever interviewed (Picture: Rex)
Talking about punch-gate, which came after Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, Madeley said: ‘I don’t condone it, what he did was wrong, but I do understand it.
‘If Judy had alopecia and someone used her condition as material, I’m not sure what I’d do.’
Smith, who won his first Academy Award for King Richard, appeared to take offence to a gag Rock made about Pinkett Smith’s short haircut.
The Magic Mike XXL star and Red Table Talk host has previously spoken about her struggles with alopecia and said it is what prompted her to shave her head.
Referring to Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, Rock said: ‘Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2’, prompting the actress to roll her eyes.
However, Smith walked up on stage and appeared to hit Rock before returning to his seat and shouting twice: ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.’
The altercation left Rock shocked and flustered as he tried to resume presenting the best documentary feature category.
The incident cast a cloud over Smith’s acceptance speech for his first-ever Oscar, after he was named best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard.
Jada Pinkett Smith has previously spoken about her alopecia struggle (Picture: Rex)
Smith apologised to both the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock, as he collected his gong, joking that he ‘looks like the crazy father.’
Breaking down in tears, he said: ‘Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family.
‘In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling me to do and be in this world.’
He added: ‘I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.
‘I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, you’ve got to be able to have people talk crazy about you in this business.
‘You’ve got to be able have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.’
He added: ‘I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees.
‘This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award, it’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people.’
He continued: ‘Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things.’
Oscars 2022 winners
Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actor in a Leading Role
Will Smith – King Richard
Actress in a Supporting Role
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Actor in a Supporting Role
Troy Kotsur – Coda
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Music (Original Song)
No Time To Die from No Time to Die – Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
CODA – Siân Heder
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Belfast – Sir Kenneth Branagh
Cruella – Jenny Beavan
International Feature Film
Drive My Car (Japan)
Animated Feature Film
Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer
Dune – Greig Fraser
Makeup and Hairstyling
The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh
Dune – Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos
Dune – Joe Walker
Music (Original Score)
Dune – Hans Zimmer
Live Action Short Film
The Long Goodbye – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed
Animated Short Film
The Windshield Wiper – Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez
Documentary Short Subject
The Queen of Basketball – Ben Proudfoot
Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.