Will Smith awaits the Academy’s decision on his slapping of Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Others wait to see how the incident will affect the new Oscar winner’s career. One of his past co-stars has stated that he will never work with him again.
On the set of the 2001 film “Ali,” comedian Paul Rodriguez claimed to have witnessed Smith’s wrath firsthand. To play the boxing legend, Smith put on 35 pounds of muscle. He received his first Oscar nomination for his remarkable metamorphosis into Muhammad Ali.
When he turned around [after the slap] — that smug, that look like that. I’ve seen that look before. I feel like I got slapped everyday with the verbal abuse. I’d be walking around and he would hurl some insult. You know, I just kept it in. What am I going to do?
Rodriguez was cast as Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammed Ali’s boxing ring medic, a part he flew all the way to Africa to play for the jungle sequences. When the real-life doctor arrived on set, Rodriguez claims, things got violent. The doctor is said to have complained that his character didn’t have enough screen time.
Rodriguez claimed the doctor called Will Smith a racial slur. Rodriguez even kept a journal about the horrible event. Rodriguez’s planned part was slashed, and he was reduced to the status of extra.
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