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Chris Rock’s Set Policy: ‘I’ve Fired People Because They Couldn’t Listen to a Woman’

Being around powerful women in the comedy world helped shape Rock's career mindset.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock

Michael Buckner/Variety

Chris Rock told Nicole Kidman during a recent conversation for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” video series that he has fired people off his sets in the past for showing a refusal to listen to women. The two actors and potential Emmy contenders (Rock for “Fargo,” Kidman for “The Undoing”) were marveling at the career of Lucille Ball, who Kidman is starring as in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming feature “Being the Ricardos” for Amazon Studios.

“She was a trailblazer,” Kidman said. “She formed her production company. Desi was Cuban, and she had to fight to get him on the show. They had just so many things in their marriage that are so relevant today, and what she was also dealing with in terms of everything that artists deal with, where you’re up against big corporations. And you’re like, ‘No, this is art.'”

Rock weighed in, “Let’s not downplay the fact [of] how hard it must’ve been to be a woman at that time going through, you know, just like, ‘I’m the boss. Not him. I’m the boss.'”

When Kidman said “it is still tricky” in Hollywood for women to navigate positions of power, Rock added, “It is still. I’ve fired people because they couldn’t listen to a woman. I was like, ‘How come he’s not doing …?’ And then I realize, ‘Oh.'”

Rock told Kidman that his healthy relationship to his mother and the powerful women who informed his comedy career are two reasons he’s never had an issue listening to women in a work setting. The actor added, “When I was starting out as a comedian, you know, Joy Behar and Susie Essman took me under their wing. I just always was around these powerful women. I mean, even in comedy, the clubs were run by women.”

Rock added, “Everybody talks about how stand-up is a boys’ club, but stand-up’s been run by a lot of women for a lot of years. Even right now, it’s Estee [Adoram] at the Comedy Cellar in New York. Lots of powerful women that called the shots.”

Rock most recently starred in “Spiral,” the latest entry in the “Saw” horror franchise. Head over to Variety’s website to read his entire “Actors on Actors” conversation with Kidman.

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