Chris Rock never liked marriage

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 It is no secret: Chris Rock did not like being married.

Or, if he did, it sure did not sound like he did.

In 2004, seven years after he got married, he said: "Marriage is beautiful, but if you think you're going to hold onto your individual self, you're an idiot."

Those barbed riffs from an interview with NBC's Stone Phillips a decade ago sound like signs of trouble, now that the 49-year-old actor has announced his impending divorce.

Over the weekend, the comic and his wife of 17 years, Malaak Compton-Rock, a philanthropist with whom he has three children, said they would call it quits.

"Take yourself to the door and wave, 'Hey, see you later'," Rock had told Phillips. "You don't walk around the house like you're Stone Phillips. You're 'Her husband'. That's it."

He also expressed sympathy for an unlikely figure - Al-Qaeda's No. 1 - who he thought might be suffering in holy matrimony as well.

"Hey, if (Osama) Bin Laden was here right now, he's going, 'Oh, yeah, my eight wives are killing me too'," he said.

Nor did he portray a happy home in his hilarious - and, in a family newspaper, unprintable - riffs on marriage as sexless and miserable in his 2004 HBO special, Never Scared. Even a political saint who endured decades could not take the institution, he said.

"Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a South African prison," Rock said.

"... Man can do hard labour in 100degree South African heat for 27 years and did it with no problem.

"He got out of jail after 27 years of torture, spent six months with his wife and said, 'I can't take this (stuff) no more.'"

Of course, marriage has been a tried and true target for some long-married comedians, notably the late Henny Youngman of "take my wife, please" fame.

Rock's either sincere or played-up dissatisfaction went beyond remarks in an old comedy special and in decade-old interviews.

After tabloids reported that the Rocks were on the rocks in 2007, the couple took to the pages of People magazine to deny the rumours.

"Though we have tried in the past to take the high road and not comment on the tabloid media, we find it necessary to express on record how unfortunate it is that the (New York) Daily News, specifically, and other tabloid outlets, have chosen to print untrue rumours and lies about our family and marriage," the couple said in a statement.

"It is extremely hurtful to us, our children, and our extended family. We remain, as always, very happy and committed to our marriage and the beautiful family that we have built."

Yet these statements came not long after Rock directed, co-produced and - with the soon-to-be-divorced comedian Louis C.K. - co-wrote a film called I Think I Love My Wife. The premise: A man played by Rock trapped in a sexless marriage contemplates an affair.

"I've been married close to seven years," Rock said in a preview. "My wife is beautiful, intelligent and a great mother.

"There's just one problem: We're bored out of our minds. Theme music: My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)."

Entertainment website The A.V. Club wrote: "One of the film's key revelations is that his resistance to having an affair comes as much from wishing to maintain his lifestyle (the high-paying job, the nice house, the kids) as from loyalty to his wife."

Indeed, in Rock's comedy - as in material from Louis C.K., Larry David and Bill Cosby - marriage is not just an institution worth a few kind-hearted jokes, but a kind of master-slave relationship worth skewering.

For Rock, "ball-and-chain" seemed more than an expression.

"The most romantic words a man will ever say to you are these words: 'I ain't going nowhere,'" he said in his concert film Kill The Messenger (2008). "... When a man says 'I ain't going nowhere', what he's trying to tell you is: 'I've actually thought about going somewhere. I talked to a lawyer. I looked at a place.

"And I realised I'm going to go through the same (stuff) with the next girl, so why not just stay here and be miserable with you?'"

The news may distract during Rock's round of interviews for his new film Top Five. But it comes as no surprise.

As an unnamed source told E! News, the Rocks have "been living separate lives for some time".

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