Christopher Julius Rock, known to the world as Chris Rock, is arguably one of Hollywood’s and stand-up comedy’s most iconic African-American celebrities. Beginning in the mid-1980s, doing stand-up comedy in New York Catch a rising star, the South Carolina native moved to Crown Heights in Brooklyn shortly after he was born. From there, Chris’ career began to blossom to the point where he laughed at himself for success. Throughout his career he has had the good fortune to work with celebrities such as Wesley Snipes, Adam Sandler, Regina King, Anthony Hopkins, Bernie Mac, Mel Gibson and Eddie Murphy, and is best known for his roles in films such as Jack’s New Town, The longest yardand The adults. Between sitcoms, stand-up comedy, and acting in a plethora of movies (some of which he wrote and directed), he was able to amass a net worth of $60 million.
A not-so-funny start to life
Born in 1965 into a working-class family, Chris Rock had several sad years in his life before he started making people laugh for a living. When he was 23, his father, Julius Rock, died after ulcer surgery. Then, a few years later, he lost an older half-brother, Charles Ledell Rock, to alcoholism. But perhaps the most troubling period for the comedian was his schooling.
Today we know that Brooklyn is home to many rappers, such as Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z, but back when Chris and his family lived there, he attended schools in predominantly white neighborhoods, where he suffered blatant displays of racism that came in the form of beatings and bullying by privileged white children. The treatment had such a profound effect on Chris that he eventually dropped out of high school, got his GED, and started working for several fast food restaurants. However, the things he went through only pushed him to turn his pain into laughter and make it a success.
Like many other comedians and actors, Chris didn’t rise to fame overnight. In the 1980s, his stand-up comedies at various comedy clubs looking for talent brought him some recognition. This led to a few minor roles in films such as I will make you suckwritten and produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, as well as miami vice, in which other upcoming celebrities were introduced around the same time, such as Bruce Willis. Chris’ consistency with stand-up in nightclubs has finally paid off. Seeing his act and his potential, Eddie Murphy thought to give Chris his first major chance by offering him a role in Beverly Hills Cop 2 in 1987.
Saturday Night Live and early movie hits
After getting the breakthrough of a lifetime with one of the original kings of stand-up comedy, Chris Rock was marked for success. In early 1990 and continuing through 1993, Chris became a cast member of the famous comedy sketches that made other comedians like Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler legends in their field – Saturday Night Live (SNL). It was during his time on SNL that he formed a lifelong bond with fellow dynamic comedians Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider and David Spade; a syndicate that became known as the Bad Boys of SNL. They formed such a close bond that they often acted together in films, such as in The adults.
With his fame growing on SNL, it wasn’t long before the vivacious comedian was offered another film role in 1991. Jack’s New Town, with Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne and Mario Peebles. The film remained a classic drug kingpin film and portrayed Chris as a drug addict turned informant, Pookie. Although he was praised years later for his cast’s legendary acting, Jack’s New Town grossed $47.6 million worldwide.
The 1990s proved to be a busy year for Chris as more and more films landed in his lap, featuring him as the title character. After Jack’s New Townhe starred again with Eddie Murphy in Boomerang (1992). In 1993, after being fired from SNL, he co-wrote his own comedy film named CB4 on a $6 million budget, which went on to gross around $18 million. Although Chris and the late Charlie Murphy starred in the film, there were also cameos from Ice-T, Ice Cube, Halle Berry, Thomas Davidson and Shaquille O’ Neal. Then he starred with his longtime comedian pal, Chris Farley, in Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), which grossed $31.5 million. The following year, he hit the jackpot with his role as Detective Lee Butters in lethal weapon four (1998) alongside Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Jet Li and Joe Pesci, grossing over $285 million at the box office. His next film in 1999 was a fantasy comedy named Dogma. Despite an iconic cast of actors such as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek and Jason Lee, the film made $44 million against a budget of $10 million.
Stand-up comedy projects
In addition to the movies, the Bad Boy comedy has also made waves with its appearance on HBO comedy specials such as Big ass jokes in 1994 and bring the pain in 1996 for which he won two Emmys, solidifying himself as one of comedy’s greats. He resumed his appearance on HBO in 1999 with Bigger and blacker and never marked in 2004, being dubbed “America’s Funniest Man” by Time and Weekly entertainment. HBO also featured The Chris Rock Show from 1997 to 2000, where Rock’s fame soared as he interviewed politicians and celebrities. Fast forward to 2016 when Netflix announced Rock would release two new stand-up specials, each priced at $20 million per session. The first special hit on Netflix screens in 2018, titled Chris Rock: Tambourine, marked his first stand-up concert in ten years.
Continued success into the 2000s
Chris Rock further expanded his cinematic horizons in the 2000s and beyond with a list of career films beginning with Down to earth (2001) which Rock wrote himself. The comedy grossed $71.2 million and featured actors including John Cho, Eugene Levy, Wanda Sykes and Regina King. Shortly after, in 2003, he directed and starred in Head of state, which barely broke even on a $35 million budget. And again in 2007 with I think I love my wife, which grossed $13.2 million at the box office and starred Kerry Washington, Gina Torres and Steve Buscemi. He will also play a lead role in bad company alongside Anthony Hopkins in 2002, grossing $66 million worldwide. Around the same time, he appeared in The longest yard (2005) opposite his comedy co-star Adam Sandler and featured Tracy Morgan, Terry Crews, rapper Nelly and former NFL player Michael Irvin. The film grossed $191 million worldwide.
Also in 2005, Rock partnered with DreamWorks Studios for the animated franchise, Madagascar, and was the voiceover for Marty the Zebra. In total, the three Madagascar The animations grossed $2.2 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the sixth highest-grossing animated film of all time.
Other Chris Rock cinematic milestones include 2010’s black comedy, Death at funeral, The adults (2010), What to do when you are pregnant (2012) starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez, and a 2014 comedy film, top five. More recently, in 2021, Rock ventured into the horror genre in the ninth installment in the Saw franchise, Spiral, where he had a starring role. The horror film grossed $40.6 million against a budget of $20 million.
Real estate companies
The sheer volume of film projects, both as an actor and as a writer/director, has been impressive, to say the least for Chris Rock. But aside from movies, he also enjoyed success as a television producer with Everybody hates Chris, which began airing in 2005. Based largely on himself, the series shed light on some of the struggles Rock faced growing up, portraying his younger self as Tyler James Williams. Rock was not only the executive producer but also the narrator of the show. The series ended in 2009 and, according to Forbes, Chris Rock made $42 million that same year from the show’s revenue.
Before selling the Brooklyn home he bought in 1994 for $3.25 million in 2017, Rock rented the property for $8,000 a month before moving to Alpine, New Jersey with his ex-wife, Malaak Compton Rock.
Overall, Chris Rock has had one of the busiest and most satisfying careers of most celebrities. And, from 2021, we can see that for him, it’s not over.
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Sources: Money, Celebrity Net Worth, NPR
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