The Slap–otherwise known as Will Smith’s shocking act of violence against Chris Rock at the Oscars earlier this year–sent shockwaves through Hollywood (and beyond). The biggest celebrity scuffle in recent memory was the subject of furious discourse and had an undeniable impact on Smith’s reputation.
Slap-related stories have actually subsided of late, in contrast to the wall-to-wall coverage that occurred in the weeks after the event. Yet there’s no doubt the actor is still feeling the effects–according to The Hollywood Reporter, several of his projects were slowed down if not dropped altogether. Bad Boys 4 was one of the films reportedly on “pause,” but co-star Martin Lawrence says the sequel is safe even in the wake of Smith’s scandal.
Specifically, Lawrence “[dismissed] speculation” that the film would be canceled because of The Slap in a new interview for Ebony. “We got one more at least,” he says.
He fondly recalls a pre-Slap world where he and Smith were two television stars who shattered expectations with the first Bad Boys. “It was big. For us to come together and prove that we can deliver, and we can pull people into the box office—that two Black stars, two sitcom stars, could make money at the box office [was huge]. I didn’t go to college, so I felt TV was my college years. I felt with movies, I had graduated; it was just different,” he explains.
While Lawrence has seen plenty of success since then, his partner in crime-fighting went on to become one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Smith finally reached his pinnacle of professional achievement with the Oscar for King Richard, but the victory was tainted by, well, you know. He was then essentially forced to resign from The Academy and was banned from its events for 10 years.
But why should any of that affect Bad Boys? The Slap has only made Smith–if you will–a badder boy. He can’t languish in Hollywood jail forever, and a crowd-pleasing franchise return may be just what he needs to get back in audiences’ good graces.