During the televised ceremony, Smith slapped Rock on stage and swore at him after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” Rock had joked, in an apparent reference to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Pinkett Smith stated last year that she shaved her head after struggling with alopecia.
It was subsequently announced that Smith was being banned from all Academy events for 10 years as puishment.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Crews reflected on the incident, saying: “Both Will Smith and Chris Rock are dear, dear friends of mine. I love them both as brothers, but there was a time in my life [where] I was Will Smith at that moment and let me tell you, I’ve done worse than Will – way overkill, just … the punishment did not fit the crime.
“Like people were like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ My wife even had to be like, ‘You got to promise me you will never go off like this. You did not need to pick this man up and put him on his head, on the concrete,’” he continued.
The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star praised Rock for keeping his composure after the altercation.
“The toughness where I grew up and the way I was, it was always the ability to strike, the ability to punch, the ability to set things straight, to even the score,” he said.
“But the true definition of toughness was what Chris did in taking a punch and then holding everything together and then showing tremendous endurance and resilience in the middle of obstacles.
“I’m very thankful to Chris, but also I understand Will. I’m not [one] to demonise Will at all because I was there.”