Post-Slap, Chris Rock Turns Down Oscars Hosting Gig Offer

Months after the comedian was slapped by Will Smith onstage at the Oscars, he says he declined an offer to host next year’s Academy Awards

In the latest installment of “What do Chris Rock and Will Smith have to say about the slap?” the comic actor has revealed that he received an offer to host next year’s Oscars ceremony but promptly turned it down.

The reveal came five months after this year’s Best Actor winner Smith marched on stage and slapped Rock at the awards, in a moment that left millions of viewers confused. The incident was seemingly prompted when Rock lobbed a dud of a joke at Smith’s wife, actor and talk show host Jada Pinkett-Smith about, her bald head; Pinkett-Smith has alopecia.

The shocking incident (eventually) ended with Smith being banned from all Academy events for 10 years. It also sparked debates around toxic masculinity, Black-on-Black violence, and forgiveness.

Rock, while doing a stand-up show in Phoenix on Sunday, says the Academy approached him about hosting the next show; he joked that it would be like returning to a crime scene, as the Arizona Republic reports.

Rock then referenced the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, telling the crowd at Arizona Financial Theatre that going back to the Oscars after being slapped onstage would be like asking Nichole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where she had left her eyeglasses before being killed in 1994. He added that he had also turned down a Super Bowl commercial offer after the controversial live TV moment.

Rock also added that the slap was indeed painful and how physically outmatched he was by Smith—who eventually apologized publicly.

“He’s bigger than me,” Rock said. “The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”

In May, ABC President of Entertainment Craig Erwich told Deadline that he would be open to seeing Rock take the Oscars stage again in 2023; Rock hosted the show twice, in 2005 and 2016.

Last week at a roundtable interview, recently appointed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Chief Executive Bill Kramer said that the group was doing its best to put the violent incident in the past.

“We want to move forward and have an Oscars that celebrates cinema,” Kramer said when asked whether the 2023 show would address the televised attack. “That’s our focus right now. It’s really about moving forward.”

Kramer also notes that while three of the last four Oscars had no host, next year’s show would do its best not to carry on that trend.

“We definitely want a host,” he said. “A host is very important to us. We are committed to having a host on the show this year, and we are already looking at some key partners on that.”

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