Michael Ealy Recalls The Time Chris Rock Was Rude To Him On Set Before Apologizing Years Later, “He Was Just An A**hole”
When starting out in any industry it can be intimidating to meet those you look up to and find out they that are unfortunately not what you were expecting. Actor Michael Ealy can certainly relate to this situation, as he recently recalled meeting comedian Chris Rock on set for the first time as a young actor and it was a crushing disappointment.
Back in 2002, The Intruder star Michael Ealy was a struggling actor still waiting tables in New York when he got cast in a small role in the action comedy Bad Company starring Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins. What initially began as excitement at his first Hollywood role—and the opportunity to meet his idol Rock, eventually evolved into disappointment.
In a new interview, Ealy recalls Rock being incredibly rude to him on set, which hurt and angered Ealy so much that he carried a grudge for Rock for years until he finally apologized.
Ealy detailed what happened during filming with Rock:
“Chris Rock was a little cold. He was probably at the height of his career at this point and I idolized him — I had watched all his stuff and thought he was so funny and I really respected him — but he was just kind of indifferent to me. “We had to do some reshoots for the end of the movie so they asked me to come back a couple months later — I’m still waiting tables, so I take a day off from that — and we’re doing this wedding scene between Chris and Kerry [Washington] and I’m the best man.
So, we’re about to shoot this scene, I’m in my tux, I come on set and Chris and Kerry are standing there and Joel is telling me where to stand. And right before he says action, Chris looks over at me and he says: ‘Oh. Still in the business, huh?’ And when he said that, it was like a Mike Tyson left hook. And I knew he wasn’t joking around. I think maybe he was trying to disguise it as playful teasing, but it was a dig. For whatever reason, it was a dig: ‘You still in the business, huh?’”
Ealy continued, adding that even one of the film’s co-star’s, Kerry Washington, was shocked by Rock’s behavior:
“Some people don’t get it when I tell this story, but to say that to me was beyond disrespectful — to the point where Kerry was like, ‘Chris, no.’ I still love Kerry to this day because she was like, ‘What’s wrong with you? That was just wrong.’ He had an entourage of people and they were very nice to me, but he was just an a——. You never know what somebody’s going through. Wherever he was in that point in his life, he probably wasn’t very happy.
When I first moved to New York and started waiting tables, I didn’t tell anybody that I wanted to act because it’s kind of a cliché. I didn’t want people to look at me and think: Oh, this pretty boy thinks he can just come here and be an actor. I wanted to have a chance to prove myself to myself and pay my dues. So, when he said that, it was crushing. It was awful.”
Ealy also admitted that he was so angry he wanted to get physical with Rock, but refrained:
“I just stayed professional and did my best, but I was stuck there having to look like I’m happy to be at my friend’s wedding when really at this point, I wanted to punch him in the f—— face. The crying came later. In the moment I wanted to punch him in the face. That was my Maryland upbringing coming into play where you just fight.”
However, Ealy’s encounter with Rock didn’t end there. A few years later in 2005, they crossed paths again at the Golden Globes—and Ealy says Rock humbly apologized:
“Years later I see Chris at the Golden Globes. I had been nominated for ‘Sleeper Cell’ (a Showtime drama from 2005) and I run into him on my way to the bathroom. And you know what he said? ‘I love your work and I apologize for what I said.’ He somehow remembered what he said to me and that it was wrong — and he owned up to it and apologized and told me he loved my work and he was a fan. That’s when the crying happened! For him to acknowledge it was huge — it meant everything to me. And he’s kind of a dope person because of that.”
Ealy says that early moment in his career motivated him and has impacted how he copes with the rudeness that often occurs in Hollywood:
“It’s a takeaway that I still hold true to this day: There will be plenty of people who will not believe in you. Some will be in positions of power, some will be huge stars. But not matter how crushing it feels, you cannot give up. You have to keep pushing.
My thing was, whether (Rock) knew it or not, I came out OK. Whether he apologized or not, I came out OK. And to this day I look at Chris Rock as a stand-up guy because what we do in our youth, let’s be honest, we all do stuff. I’m glad it happened because I get treated the same way by certain Hollywood executives now. The same stuff happens right now (laughs). So it helped me learn coping skills. If I didn’t believe in myself, I’d be out of this business. This career requires that much self-fortitude and determination.”
What do you think of Michael Ealy’s comments about Chris Rock? Let us know in the comments!