Jimmy Kimmel Says Chris Rock ‘Should Be Proud’ of His Reaction to Will Smith Oscars Slap: It Was Like the ‘Maury’ Show

"Chris' grandchildren, I hope, will still be proud of that when he's dead and gone," the 2023 Oscar host said.
Chris Rock and Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars
Chris Rock and Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars
AFP via Getty Images

Jimmy Kimmel is looking back at the infamous 2022 Oscars slap ahead of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

The 2023 Oscars host, who will be taking the stage March 12 for the live broadcast, compared Will Smith’s violent outburst at presenter Chris Rock to a scene for “The Maury Povich Show.”

“It’s still shocking that that happened,” Kimmel told People magazine. “To see something like that happen outside of like ‘The Maury Povich Show’ is shocking. And then for it to happen on the Oscars magnifies it by about a million times.”

The late night host continued, “I think it’s something that everybody regrets and that we will move past. One day it will be looked at in the same way as that guy running onstage naked is looked at: a weird moment that we all talked about and we hopefully learn from.”

And Kimmel is especially applauding how Rock handled the situation on the night of and months since the incident.

“I mean, to be slapped in the face and to stay that cool is something that Chris should be proud of,” Kimmel said. “Chris’ grandchildren, I hope, will still be proud of that when he’s dead and gone.”

Kimmel noted that he is going into the 2023 Oscars ceremony “75 percent prepared” with the anticipation to have to be “reacting to the show as it’s happening” and leaving room for improvisation. “I’m going to give it 110 percent,” Kimmel said.

Rock revealed in August 2022 that he was originally asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to host the 2023 Oscars ceremony and turned it down. The stand-up comedian 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.

Rock said during a stand-up set, “Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face. I’m not a victim. Yeah, that shit hurt, motherfucker. But I shook that shit off and went to work the next day. I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut.”

Meanwhile, Smith was banned from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years; he can still, however, can be nominated. Smith also shared an 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.”

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