Celebs Who've Had Beef With Will Smith

We all watched Will Smith's undeniable talent and charisma play out on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" for years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, after leaving the hit sitcom in 1996, he went on to become a successful movie star, earning roles in blockbuster films like "Independence Day," "Men in Black," and "Suicide Squad," as well as landing gigs in more culturally acclaimed fare like "Ali" and "The Pursuit of Happyness" — just to name a handful of his impressive screen credits. Although his complex marriage with wife Jada Pinkett Smith is known to make headlines and occasionally stir controversy, this star is known as a devoted family man, and has an impressive $350 million net worth, to boot.

In the 2022 documentary "Will Smith: The Fresh Prince of Hollywood," culture writer Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike explained that part of his charm is his relatability among the masses, saying (via The Grio), "Everybody likes Will Smith. You want to see him succeed." That may be true, but even with the actor-musician's great success and popularity, the "Parents Just Don't Understand" rapper has still managed to rub quite a few celebs the wrong way during his quarter-of-a-century in showbiz. 

From the multi-talent's decades-long feud with Janet Hubert (aka the OG Aunt Viv) to various conflicts arising amid the industry-wide fallout of the infamous Oscars slap against Chris Rock, these are the celebs who've had beef with Will Smith.

Judd Apatow

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars was arguably the most controversial moment of his career. Some celebrities felt that his reaction was unwarranted following a poorly received joke from Rock, in which the comedian said: "Jada, I love you. 'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it, all right?" The quip suggested that wife Jada Pinkett Smith — who was previously diagnosed with alopecia – resembled "G.I. Jane's" lead, Demi Moore, who sports a shaved head in the movie. But considering his subsequent apology, we imagine even Will might agree that the shocking slap probably wasn't the best way to solve the conflict.

Judd Apatow was among those who called out Will's controversial behavior, writing in one since-deleted tweet (via Insider): "He could have killed him. That's pure out of control rage and violence." After receiving pushback in the Twittersphere, the director clarified his statements on SiriusXM's "Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw." Admitting that he wasn't actually watching the Oscars when he took to Twitter, but was instead informed of the incident while on the phone with a friend, he said (via Entertainment Weekly), "My personal thought was I didn't quite understand the offense, but I may be misreading it because to me G.I. Jane was the most gorgeous woman in the world." 

Apatow added, "I just think there certainly is a way of handling dissatisfaction, which should never tell people that the solution is to break that barrier and leap on the stage and commit an act of violence in front of people who are inspired by you."

Janet Hubert

Janet Hubert played Aunt Viv on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" for three seasons before her ongoing beef with co-star Will Smith led to her being replaced in 1993. "My departure was planned for a long time," she told HuffPost's Black Voices nearly two decades later. "There will never be a reunion of the Fresh Prince. Will Smith and Alfonso [Ribeiro] destroyed a 20-year-career with untruths. I got slammed. Will apologized later in an Essence Magazine article, but it still lingers. It's still there." 

What could have caused such animosity between these two? Hubert has long claimed that Smith declined to help her convince NBC to issue a pay raise amid contract negotiations; meanwhile, rumors that she was difficult to work with — spurred on by her abovementioned former co-stars' public comments — derailed her career. After years of sparring in the media, 2020 saw Hubert and Smith settle the feud during the series' HBO Max reunion special, despite the former previously stating she would never attend.

"There was some friction between Will and I ... because I was pregnant. Homelife was not good at all," Hubert clarified at the time, per The U.S. Sun. While it seems that her conflict with Smith was only one of the many reasons why Hubert left, she told him (via PopSugar), "I lost everything. ... Calling a Black woman 'difficult' in Hollywood is the kiss of death." Smith publicly apologized to Hubert — and luckily for longtime fans, they've since remained on good terms, with Hubert even defending Smith's behavior at the 2022 Oscars.

Howard Stern

Howard Stern took to his SiriusXM radio show to share his opinion on Will Smith's Oscars controversy in March 2022, and the blunt radio show host did not hold back. "This is a sign of great mental illness when you can't control your impulse," he claimed of the star's violent reaction to Chris Rock's joke on "The Howard Stern Show" (via Page Six). "Not only that, it was hardly an insulting joke. It was not even a good joke."

It may be safe to say that Stern wasn't too fond of Smith after the headline-making incident, because he even compared the "King Richard" actor to former U.S. President Donald Trump. Stern also criticized the Academy's handling of the situation, including the lack of security taking action: For context, while there have been mixed reports on whether or not Smith had been asked to leave the ceremony following the slap, per Variety, the star still went on to accept the best actor award mere moments later. And the shock jock didn't feel that there was much to look into after the Academy announced a formal investigation into the matter, given how the entire incident was broadcasted live on TV and immediately went viral on social media. 

"Here's what happened: Will Smith assaulted another human being, and you guys did nothing," Stern said, before joking about the protective measures he would take to avoid this type of ordeal. "I'll tell ya, if I ever present an Oscar, I'm gonna wear a suit of armor. I'd come out in a giant shark cage."

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin was not afraid to call Will Smith out for his actions at the 2022 Oscars. "Let me tell you something, it's a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters," she tweeted. It was perhaps unsurprising that Griffin, who has been known to push the boundaries of comedy herself, had concerns about the safety of stand-up comics after seeing Chris Rock get slapped over an admittedly distasteful joke — and this star knows a thing or two about controversial comedy.

You may recall that she received a great deal of backlash after sharing a gruesome image of herself holding a replica of then-President Donald Trump's head covered in blood in 2017. Unfortunately for Griffin, the consequences of this action likely far surpassed anything Smith might have faced for slapping Rock on live TV. According to The New York Times, Griffin and her team had to meet with the Secret Service and Department of Justice as a result of the shocking pic, which many believed went too far. 

So, given her own past controversies, her Twitter statement led to some pushback. One critic felt her take was "disingenuous or lack[ed] critical thinking skills," leading Griffin to respond with, "Pssst. You're misogyny is showing. Unless you're also a professional comic, who has sold out live comedy shows at the Dolby Theatre as I have, you don't have any credibility here."

Rosie O'Donnell

No unlike Howard Stern's critical take, Rosie O'Donnell had a problem not only with Will Smith but also with the Academy for its handling of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" alum's attack on Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Clearly, O'Donnell was siding firmly on Team Rock. Logging into Twitter to share her concerns with the world, she didn't exactly go easy on Smith, writing, "so upsetting – on every level – bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating will smith – which he could do any day of the week – he walked away – bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman."

Immediately following the slap, Smith had returned to his seat, infamously yelling more than once, "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!" For his part, per NPR, Rock kept his composure and quipped, "Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me. That was the greatest night in the history of television." He then went on to present the Oscar for best documentary feature to "Summer of Soul."

In addition to making it clear that she believed Rock could demolish Smith in a battle of the comedic minds, O'Donnell further questioned the Academy's initial response to the entire situation. In a separate tweet written in response to a statement released by the organization about not condoning violence, she asked, "The[n] why did you do NOTHING?" But O'Donnell did not stop there, as the actor also retweeted messages from her peers who didn't agree with Smith's actions, per Page Six.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock's "G.I. Jane" joke about Jada Pinkett Smith obviously did not go over well with Will Smith. But it turns out this wasn't the first time there may have been tension between Rock and the Smiths. When the comedian hosted the Academy Awards in 2016, he poked fun at Jada's decision to boycott the ceremony amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties — I wasn't invited!" Rock quipped. Although the Smith family didn't publicly speak out against the joke, all parties seemed to be on good terms at the time. According to Los Angeles Times, Jada previously gave a shout-out to Rock's hosting gig while announcing the boycott on Facebook, saying, "I can't think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend." 

While Rock likely had no real beef with Will prior to the slap, here's where the comic stood in the aftermath. Per NPR, Rock declined to file charges with the LAPD. Breaking his silence on the matter during a stand-up routine in Boston days later, he said (via Variety), "I'm still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I'll talk about that s***. And it will be serious and funny." While we're all hoping there's a chance for a reconciliation, a source cited by Hollywood Life claimed that the ordeal was "still raw, emotional, and confusing" for Rock.

"He can't imagine forgiving Will, being friends with him," the insider alleged, adding that Rock "doesn't want the ... slap to define him and the rest of his career."

Jim Carrey

Just days after the 2022 Oscars, Jim Carrey announced his plans to retire from acting soon. However, he still made sure to let the public know that he didn't support Will Smith's act of violence prior to his final farewell from Hollywood. 

"I was sickened. I was sickened by the standing ovation," the "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" star told "CBS Mornings" of the audience's response to Smith winning best actor shortly after he slapped Chris Rock (via Extra TV). "I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse. ... It really felt like, 'Oh, this is a really clear indication that we're not the cool club anymore.'" Carrey went on to explain how he felt that Smith's anger was completely unexpected, noting, "You do not have the right to walk up on stage and smack somebody in the face 'cause they said words."

Carrey even took a moment to detail what he would have done if he were in Rock's shoes: "I'd have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million, 'cause that video is gonna be there forever. It's gonna be ubiquitous." Luckily for Smith's bank account, Carrey was not actually involved in the incident. Still, although he obviously wasn't the one who took the literal and figurative hit, it seems Carrey is not on the best of terms with Smith following the Oscars incident.

Tony Rock

It is perhaps no surprise that Chris Rock's brother, fellow comedian Tony Rock, came to his sibling's defense after he was slapped in front of millions of viewers. Vocalizing his frustrations during a stand-up show in the days after the 2022 Oscars, Tony said (via The Shade Room), "If you think you gonna walk up on this stage, this ain't the motherf***ing Oscars! And if you walk your a** up here, you ain't nominated for s*** but these motherf***ing hands!" 

As the crowd cheered the seemingly fired-up comic on, he decided to take a direct dig at Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. "I didn't want to start the show like that!" he continued. "You gonna hit my motherf***ing brother because your b***h gave you a side-eye?" You may recall that cameras caught Will laughing at Chris' "G.I. Jane 2" joke at first, seemingly before noticing his wife's eye roll in response, per Guardian News. Tony also made his beef with "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star clear on Twitter

When asked if he accepted the actor's apology the day after the Academy Awards, he bluntly replied, "No." Another user asked: "Are we fighting fire with fire or going the professional route?" to which Tony responded: "It's on bro."