Celebrities often give horror stories dating back to their early days in Hollywood, but it's a pretty rare occurrence that a celeb details a disappointing experience with a peer who was rude or, in this case, an outright "a**hole."
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ealy recalled the time when the comedian was being incredibly rude to him while on set. He explained that the disappointing exchange angered him so much that he carried a grudge for Rock for years.
"Chris Rock was a little cold," he said. "He was probably at the height of his career at this point and I idolized him — I had watched all his stuff and thought he was so funny and I really respected him — but he was kind of indifferent to me."
After the now accomplished actor explained that, at the time of filming the movie, he was still waiting tables and took days off to appear on set, he shared the exchange that skewed his outlook on Rock for years.
"Right before [the director] says action, Chris looks over at me and he says, 'Oh, still in the business, huh?'" he said. "And when he said that, it was like a Mike Tyson left hook. And I knew he wasn't joking around. I think maybe he was trying to disguise it as playful teasing, but it was a dig. For whatever reason, it was a dig: 'You still in the business, huh?'"
Ealy, who currently stars in the new thriller The Intruder, added that his co-star Kerry Washington came to his defense in the uncomfortable situation.
"Some people don't get it when I tell this story, but to say that to me was beyond disrespectful — to the point where Kerry was like, 'Chris, no,'" he said. "I still love Kerry to this day because she was like, 'What's wrong with you? That was just wrong.'"
Ealy went on to specify that Rock's team was "very nice" to him, but the comic, himself, "was just an a**hole."
"You never know what somebody's going through," he said. "Wherever he was in that point in his life, he probably wasn't very happy."
After admitting that he "wanted to punch him in the f*****g face" for his disrespectful jab, Ealy said they squashed their beef a few years later in 2005 at the Golden Globes, with Rock apologizing for his actions.
"I had been nominated for Sleeper Cell and I run into him on my way to the bathroom," he said. "And you know what he said? 'I love your work and I apologize for what I said.' He somehow remembered what he said to me and that it was wrong — he owned up to it and apologized and told me he loved my work and he was a fan. That's when the crying happened."
Above all, Ealy said that particular moment he shared with Rock taught him how to cope with the rudeness that often occurs in spaces of power in Hollywood.
(Photos from left: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images, Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for NAACP, Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photobank)