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Chris Rock Says He Turned Down Hosting 2023 Oscars After Will Smith Slap

Rock said hosting the Oscars would be like Nicole Brown Simpson going "back to the restaurant" where she left her glasses the night she was murdered.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23:  comedian/ actor Chris Rock attends 'The Week Of' New York Premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on April 23, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

Chris Rock


Chris Rock has no desire to return to the Academy Awards just yet.

The comedian said during the Phoenix, Arizona stop on his sold-out stand-up tour that the Academy approached him to host the 2023 Oscars in the time after Best Actor winner Will Smith slapped him during the 2022 ceremony. Rock said that he was also offered to star in a Super Bowl commercial, which he turned down as well.

Rock compared returning to the Oscars to going back to the scene of a crime, as reported by Arizona Republic. While onstage at the Arizona Financial Theatre, Rock said going back to the Oscars would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where she left a pair of glasses the night she was murdered.

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

IndieWire has reached out to the Academy for comment.

Oscars producer Will Packer previously explained that he approached Rock backstage after Smith attacked him. “I said, ‘Did he really hit you?’” Packer recalled asking Rock. “And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Yeah, I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,’ as only Chris can. He was immediately in joke mode, but you could tell that he was very much still in shock.”

Packer added that Rock was “not retaliatory” or “angry,” so Smith stayed in the audience, later accepting his Best Actor award for “King Richard.”

Smith was later banned from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years; he can still, however, be nominated. Smith also shared a recent apology video calling his outburst “unacceptable.”

“I was fogged out by that point,” Smith explained. “It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is ‘he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out.'”

Smith shared a special message directed to Rock, saying, “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Rock first spoke out about the experience during the first stop of his sold-out comedy tour, starting at the Wilbur in Boston just five days after the Academy Awards.

“I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend, and I’m still kind of processing what happened,” Rock said at the time. “So at some point, I’ll talk about that shit. And it’ll be serious, and it’ll be funny.”

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