He was a cast member of the popular sketch comedy
series Saturday Night Live from 1990–1993. His tenure on
the show gave Rock national exposure, but problems with
drugs led him to rarely being used on the show save for
his recurring Nat X character. Rock was fired from SNL
in the spring of 1993, as part of a regular cast
turnover. Chris took the firing as a sign to stop using
drugs and to concentrate on a film career. Unfortunately
acting jobs were few, so Rock abandoned Hollywood to
concentrate on stand-up comedy.
His 1996 stand-up special Bring the Pain reinvented Chris Rock as one of the hottest comedians in Hollywood. His routine, which featured commentaries on race in America stirred up much controversy especially in light of his routine "Niggas vs Black People", which featured Rock saying "Nigga" repeatedly and claiming that it was socially acceptable for black people to refer to segments of the black population that degraded the black community through sloth and stupidity as "Niggas".
In addition to acting, Rock has had three HBO comedy specials: Bring the Pain in 1996, Bigger and Blacker in 1999, and most recently, Never Scared in 2004. HBO also aired his talk show, The Chris Rock Show, which gained critical acclaim for Rock's interviews with famous celebrities.
While Chris Rock has acted in movies since 1986 (including a small role in Beverly Hills Cop II), it was only until the success of his stand-up act in the mid-'90s that Rock began receiving major parts in films. These include roles in Lethal Weapon 4, Dogma, Madagascar, and the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard.
Chris Rock comedy typically involves race relations in the United States, although he devotes a large portion of his material to women too. Though not directly based on it, a lot of his comedic views are rooted in his teen years; his very strict parents, concerned about the neighborhood schools, had him bused to an almost all-white high school in Bensonhurst (a white-ethnic neighborhood of Brooklyn that was known at the time for poor race relations). Rock claims to have been arrested four times: once for vehicular assault on a youth who had robbed him, and three times for traffic violations, including driving without a license and "driving too slow". In the fall of 2005, the UPN television network premiered a comedy series called Everybody Hates Chris that is based on Rock's school days.
In early 2005, Chris Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. The decision to have Rock host the awards was seen by some to bring an "edge" to the ceremony and to make it more relevant or appealing to younger audiences. Some were worried that Rock's outspoken and often crude humor would tarnish the staid image of the awards, but his comedy ruffled few feathers aside from those of Sean Penn. Rock jokingly asked "Who is this guy?" in reference to actor Jude Law seemingly appearing in every movie Rock had seen that year and implied Law was a low-rent Tom Cruise. Nearly two hours later, Penn took the stage to present and said "In answer to our host's question, Jude Law is one of our finest young actors" to the surprise of a television audience who had all but forgotten the earlier remark.
On September 9, 2005, Chris Rock said "George Bush hates midgets" before saying his original script during a telethon similar to the Kanye West situation. The tone was one of parody and not actual opinion.
Chris Rock has been married to Malaak Compton-Rock since November 23, 1996. She is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce.
The couple have two children together, Lola Simone (born June 28, 2002) and Zahra Savannah (born May 22, 2004).
- Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
- Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen (1988)
- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
- "Who Is Chris Rock?" (1989) (short subject)
- New Jack City (1991)
- Boomerang (1992)
- CB4 (1993) (also co-producer)
- The Immortals (1995)
- Sgt. Bilko (1996)
- Beverly Hills Ninja (1997)
- Doctor Dolittle (1998) (voice)
- Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
- King of the Hill (1998) (voice of Roger Sack)
- "Torrance Rices" (1999) (short subject)
- Dogma (1999)
- Nurse Betty (2000)
- Down to Earth (2001)
- AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001) (voice)
- Pootie Tang (2001) (also producer)
- Osmosis Jones (2001) (voice)
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
- Bad Company (film) (2002)
- Comedian (2002) (documentary)
- Pauly Shore Is Dead (2003)
- Head of State (2003) (also director and producer)
- Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party (2004) (documentary)
- The N-Word (2004) (documentary)
- Paparazzi (2004) (cameo appearance)
- The Aristocrats (2005) (documentary)
- Madagascar (2005) (voice)
- The Longest Yard (2005)
- Everybody Hates Chris (2005) (voice)
- Sick Day (2006) (currently announced start of production)
- The Gilmores of Beverly Hills (2006) (pre-production)