‘I Wanted to Punch Him’: Michael Ealy Details ‘Cold’ Incident With Chris Rock That Had Him Holding a ‘Serious Grudge’ for Years

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Michael Ealy is a hotshot Hollywood actor today, but as he makes the rounds promoting his new movie “The Intruder,” the star recalls an early moment in his career with a “cold” Chris Rock.

Apparently, Rock wasn’t a fan of Ealy from the early moments of shooting the 2002 film “Bad Company.” And what he told the fledgling actor is something Ealy said, “crushed me.”

Michael Ealy
Michael Ealy (left) had a grudge against Chris Rock (right) for years. (Photos: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

“Chris Rock was a little cold,” the actor explained to the Chicago Tribune in a May 7 article about his worst career moment. “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.”

Ealy, who went to New York to become an actor and had become a waiter to make ends meet, described the moment he and Rock began filming a scene where Ealy played Rock’s best man and Kerry Washington, also an emerging star at the time, played Rock’s character’s bride-to-be.

“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 and I’m the best man. … And right before [director Joel Schumacher] says action, Chris looks over at me and he says: ‘Oh (pause). Still in the business, huh?’

“And when he said that, it was like a Mike Tyson left hook,” Ealy continued. “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?’”

The actor said that not everyone understands when he relays the story “but to say that to me was beyond disrespectful — to the point where Kerry was like (laughs), ‘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——,” Ealy said. “You never know what somebody’s going through. Wherever he was in that point in his life, he probably wasn’t very happy.”

The actor, who had a bit part in the flick, remained professional throughout the shoot, despite wanting to “punch him in the f—— face.” He also admitted that his feelings were so hurt by Rock’s verbal blow that he burst into tears later on.

“The crying came later,” Ealy recalled. “In the moment I wanted to punch him in the face. That was my Maryland upbringing coming into play [laughs] where you just fight.”

Years later, Ealy and Rock had a run-in with each other at the Golden Globes in 2005.

“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,'” Ealy disclosed. “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 (laughs)! For him to acknowledge it was huge — it meant everything to me,” the star said. “And he’s kind of a dope person because of that. I forgive easy, but can you imagine if he hadn’t remembered that we had worked together on a movie before? That would have been the second punch, right?

Ealy said he has seen Rock several times since then and now there’s no ill will between the two.

“I still think he’s a great comedian, you know what I mean? I don’t hold this against him,” he said. “I did — I held a serious grudge up until we met at the Golden Globes and we talked. But I also know that he motivated me.”

Chris Rock has not publicly responded to Ealy’s story.