Chris Rock (2005)

You’re starring in the remake of The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler. You both shared an office at Saturday Night Live for three years. Tell me something he knows about you that most people wouldn’t.

There’s nothing I would ever tell Rolling Stone. [joking] “He knows that I have anal warts!” But he’s a good friend, so he knows me offstage, not my cocky self. Without our comedic shields, we’re both pretty insecure guys.

You’re pretty much the only guy in The Longest Yard who doesn’t play football.

Yeah, I have what they scientifically refer to as “bitch hands.” I’m pretty scrawny: if I was playing, I’d definitely be on steroids. You know, most people in the world, if you told them they could take a pill and be better at their job, they’d take the pill.

What did you think of the Terri Schiavo story?

The case is bigger than anyone could even imagine, because half the Social Security rhetoric you’re hearing is big companies saying, “Why should we spend money on people that are dying anyway?” People have no idea of the difference in health care in this country. I mean, my father got sick when I was poor. My mother got sick when I was rich. My father’s dead. My mother’s alive. There were cockroaches in my father’s hospital, and he just wasn’t getting the best care. When I took my mother to the hospital, I thought it was a hotel. It was decadent. They have these shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and they show people in their Bentleys or at their summer homes. But they can’t ever show the difference in medical health, because people would revolt if they knew.

Would you do the Oscars again?

If they asked me, and if the year was right. I lucked out because I knew Ray was going to get nominated, and I figured I wouldn’t be the only brother there. I have no desire to be the Sammy Davis of my generation. But doing the show got a bit of the chip off my shoulder. When you’re a comedian that curses, you’re always a second-class citizen to the guys who don’t curse. They say “You’re big, but so-and-so’s a family comedian.” It’s almost like porno: nobody admits to liking it, but it’s a billion-dollar industry.

Sean Penn seemed pretty pissed off that night. Did he jump you after the ceremony?

No, Sean was cool afterwards. I thought it was funny: he defended Jude Law, but he didn’t say shit about Colin Farrell, or Tobey Maguire, or anyone else I might have slighted in the monologue. [Mimics Penn] “Jude Law is a great actor–I don’t give a fuck about those other guys.”

I heard Jude Law fired his agent after your monologue.

I heard that too. I don’t know what the fuck he’s thinking, firing those agents. I mean, the guy works all the time, with no box-office consequences. I wish I worked with those agents. My movies have to make money or I’m fucking toast.

Your movie career has been all over the map–is there a plan?

The plan is to not suck. Sometimes I stick to the plan, sometimes not.

Interview by Gavin Edwards. Originally published in Rolling Stone 974 (May 19, 2005).