Jada Pinkett Smith admits Chris Rock asked her out on a date, was that the reason Will Smith slapped him?

“He called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?,'” Jada Pinkett Smith tells PEOPLE.

“He called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?,'” Jada Pinkett Smith tells PEOPLE

Benjamin VanHoose is an Associate Editor on the Movies team at PEOPLE. He has written about entertainment and breaking news for over five years.

Jada Pinkett Smith photographed at MILK Studios in Los Angeles on September 7, 2023.

Jada Pinkett Smith hasn’t spoken to Chris Rock since the Oscars incident, but she hopes everyone involved can find “peace.”

The actress, whose book Worthy is out Oct. 17, tells PEOPLE in a candid new interview that “no, I haven’t talked to Chris” since the March 27, 2022, when her husband Will Smith struck him onstage at the Oscars after taking issue with a joke made about Jada.

“[Do I have] any desire to talk to Chris? Here’s my desire: I just hope that all the misunderstanding around this can be cleared up and that there can be peace,” she adds.

“I talk about this in the book, I think that there might be some misunderstanding between Chris and I as far as the 2016 Oscars. I think that he might’ve taken offense, which I meant no harm in offending. That wasn’t my intention. But I do think that there’s a big misunderstanding there,” says Jada, 52.

Back in 2016, when Will was overlooked for his Concussion performance and the acting nominations recognized no actors of color, Jada was vocally in support of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, calling for a boycott of the award show.

Chris, who was hosting that year, made jokes about Jada in his monologue. And, in his Netflix comedy special earlier this year, Chris claimed that Jada told him he should quit the hosting gig out of solidarity.

Jada admits to “not really recognizing the level of pressure [Chris] might’ve been under” at the time.

Jada Pinkett Smith photographed at MILK Studios in Los Angeles on September 7, 2023.

“I probably should have called him and gone, ‘Hey, are you okay? And just know that although I’m speaking out about the Oscars, I do wish you the best and I just want you to know that,’ me taking the time to have called him and said that, just to touch base. But his feelings might’ve been hurt,” she says.

But, Jada adds, “All we can ever do is just look at our part and see where could I have done something that would’ve seemed as if… Whatever misunderstanding might’ve been created, what could I have done to avoid that misunderstanding? The one thing that I think about is that call.”

chris rock and jada

Jada says Chris, 58, called her afterward in 2016 and she thought they’d moved on.

“He apologized and I apologized to him as well,” she says. “So I actually thought that we were good, that the hatchet was buried between us. And we hadn’t talked since then, until 2022 came.”

Directly after the slap, Jada says Chris came downstage to speak to her during a pause in the live broadcast, where he was presenting an award.

“Chris came down to the end of the stage and tried to apologize to me. He said, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm.’ I said, ‘I can’t talk about this now, Chris. This is some old s—.’ I thought this was [about] the Oscar 2016 and … their stuff that they had before I even came into the picture in the late ‘80s. I’ve got to leave that to Will and Chris to talk about, but they got their stuff for sure.”

Was Jada, who lives with alopecia, offended by the joke at the center of the Oscars incident, Chris making a punchline about her shaved head?

“I mean, that’s what comedians do,” says Jada. “I would just have to say that I am not really here to make any judgment on how people decide to express themselves and express their art. I’ll say that several times I’ve had my feelings hurt, for sure. I’ve had my feelings hurt a lot by Chris. But at the end of the day, too, being in the spotlight, it comes with the territory.”

Jada also reveals in her book that Chris once asked her out on a date.

Explaining more to PEOPLE, she says: “I think every summer all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce. So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumors.’ He was appalled. And he profusely apologized and that was that.”

A rep for Chris did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In an interview with Today on Wednesday, Jada revealed to Hoda Kotb that she and Will have been separated for seven years. Jada confirmed that it wasn’t “a divorce on paper,” as Kotb worded it, but “by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying.”

“I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be,” she told the television journalist.

The Set It Off actress also said she “made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce,” explaining, “We will work through … whatever.”

Jada Pinkett Smith photographed at MILK Studios in Los Angeles on September 7, 2023.

Will, 55, has since apologized for the Oscars incident and resigned from the Academy, which banned him from attending its events for 10 years.

Reflecting on that night, Jada says she “thought it was a skit” at first, and it took her a second to register what had happened.

“From where I was sitting I couldn’t tell. It didn’t look like Will hit Chris, because, number one, I’d seen Will in the boxing ring with pro fighters — Will’s a heavy-hitter. So when Chris moved, it looked like he ducked or he missed the shot. And when he continued to stand, and then when he continued to walk down to the end of the stage, I was like, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way that Will hit him.’ ”

She adds, “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit. I was in as much of a fog as anybody else in that room that night.”

Jada remembers trying to “keep myself grounded and settled for the people around us, and specifically for Will” in the immediate aftermath. The first thing she said to Will afterward was: “Are you okay?”

“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I just knew, one thing I’ve realized in everything I’ve been through is stay calm, stay clear. Just so you can keep your awareness on what is happening around you.”

Jada says, because of her “own journey of self-worth,” she’s finding a way to support Will while letting him figure out his path on his own.

“For a lot of years I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility thinking that I’m responsible for a lot of things that just aren’t my responsibility. Part of my codependency,” she says.

“I’m going to be by his side, but also allow him to have to figure this out for himself. [I’m] finding a way to support him without trying to take away or deal with it for him, what he has to be with.”

“He called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?,'” Jada Pinkett Smith tells PEOPLE

Jada Pinkett Smith hasn’t spoken to Chris Rock since the Oscars incident, but she hopes everyone involved can find “peace.”

The actress, whose book Worthy is out Oct. 17, tells PEOPLE in a candid new interview that “no, I haven’t talked to Chris” since the March 27, 2022, when her husband Will Smith struck him onstage at the Oscars after taking issue with a joke made about Jada.

“[Do I have] any desire to talk to Chris? Here’s my desire: I just hope that all the misunderstanding around this can be cleared up and that there can be peace,” she adds.

Jada Pinkett Smith photographed at MILK Studios in Los Angeles on September 7, 2023.

“I talk about this in the book, I think that there might be some misunderstanding between Chris and I as far as the 2016 Oscars. I think that he might’ve taken offense, which I meant no harm in offending. That wasn’t my intention. But I do think that there’s a big misunderstanding there,” says Jada, 52.

Back in 2016, when Will was overlooked for his Concussion performance and the acting nominations recognized no actors of color, Jada was vocally in support of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, calling for a boycott of the award show.

Chris, who was hosting that year, made jokes about Jada in his monologue. And, in his Netflix comedy special earlier this year, Chris claimed that Jada told him he should quit the hosting gig out of solidarity.

Jada admits to “not really recognizing the level of pressure [Chris] might’ve been under” at the time.

“I probably should have called him and gone, ‘Hey, are you okay? And just know that although I’m speaking out about the Oscars, I do wish you the best and I just want you to know that,’ me taking the time to have called him and said that, just to touch base. But his feelings might’ve been hurt,” she says.

But, Jada adds, “All we can ever do is just look at our part and see where could I have done something that would’ve seemed as if… Whatever misunderstanding might’ve been created, what could I have done to avoid that misunderstanding? The one thing that I think about is that call.”

Jada says Chris, 58, called her afterward in 2016 and she thought they’d moved on.

“He apologized and I apologized to him as well,” she says. “So I actually thought that we were good, that the hatchet was buried between us. And we hadn’t talked since then, until 2022 came.”

Directly after the slap, Jada says Chris came downstage to speak to her during a pause in the live broadcast, where he was presenting an award.

“Chris came down to the end of the stage and tried to apologize to me. He said, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm.’ I said, ‘I can’t talk about this now, Chris. This is some old s—.’ I thought this was [about] the Oscar 2016 and … their stuff that they had before I even came into the picture in the late ‘80s. I’ve got to leave that to Will and Chris to talk about, but they got their stuff for sure.”

Jada Pinkett Smith book, Worthy
Was Jada, who lives with alopecia, offended by the joke at the center of the Oscars incident, Chris making a punchline about her shaved head?

“I mean, that’s what comedians do,” says Jada. “I would just have to say that I am not really here to make any judgment on how people decide to express themselves and express their art. I’ll say that several times I’ve had my feelings hurt, for sure. I’ve had my feelings hurt a lot by Chris. But at the end of the day, too, being in the spotlight, it comes with the territory.”

Jada also reveals in her book that Chris once asked her out on a date.

Explaining more to PEOPLE, she says: “I think every summer all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce. So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumors.’ He was appalled. And he profusely apologized and that was that.”

A rep for Chris did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In an interview with Today on Wednesday, Jada revealed to Hoda Kotb that she and Will have been separated for seven years. Jada confirmed that it wasn’t “a divorce on paper,” as Kotb worded it, but “by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying.”

“I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be,” she told the television journalist.

The Set It Off actress also said she “made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce,” explaining, “We will work through … whatever.”

Jada Pinkett Smith says Chris Rock asked her out on a date amid divorce  rumors

Jada Pinkett Smith photographed at MILK Studios in Los Angeles on September 7, 2023.

Will, 55, has since apologized for the Oscars incident and resigned from the Academy, which banned him from attending its events for 10 years.

Reflecting on that night, Jada says she “thought it was a skit” at first, and it took her a second to register what had happened.

“From where I was sitting I couldn’t tell. It didn’t look like Will hit Chris, because, number one, I’d seen Will in the boxing ring with pro fighters — Will’s a heavy-hitter. So when Chris moved, it looked like he ducked or he missed the shot. And when he continued to stand, and then when he continued to walk down to the end of the stage, I was like, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way that Will hit him.’ ”

She adds, “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realized it wasn’t a skit. I was in as much of a fog as anybody else in that room that night.”

Jada remembers trying to “keep myself grounded and settled for the people around us, and specifically for Will” in the immediate aftermath. The first thing she said to Will afterward was: “Are you okay?”

“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I just knew, one thing I’ve realized in everything I’ve been through is stay calm, stay clear. Just so you can keep your awareness on what is happening around you.”

Jada says, because of her “own journey of self-worth,” she’s finding a way to support Will while letting him figure out his path on his own.

“For a lot of years I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility thinking that I’m responsible for a lot of things that just aren’t my responsibility. Part of my codependency,” she says.

“I’m going to be by his side, but also allow him to have to figure this out for himself. [I’m] finding a way to support him without trying to take away or deal with it for him, what he has to be with.”

 

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