Chris Rock says he turned down offer to host 2023 Oscars

Rock reportedly joked that it would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson to "go back to the restaurant" during a recent stand-up set

Chris Rock has said he was asked by the Academy to host next year’s Oscars, but turned the opportunity after he was infamously slapped by Will Smith during this year’s ceremony.

As the Arizona Republic reports, during a stand-up show in Phoenix over the weekend, Rock said he refused the invitation and joked that it would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” she ate at on the evening she was murdered at her Los Angeles home.

Rock also reportedly said that he had been offered to star in a Super Bowl commercial following the incident, but turned that down as well – and noted that Smith’s slap was physically painful. “He’s bigger than me,” Rock said of the Ali star. “The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”

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During the 2022 Oscars in March, Rock walked onstage and slapped Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock, who was presenting an award, compared Pinkett Smith – who has alopecia – to Demi Moore’s character in G.I. Jane. “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” Smith yelled at Rock after returning to the stage.

The day after the altercation, Smith shared a statement publicly apologising to Rock, the Academy, his family and the cast and crew of King Richard – the film Smith had won a Best Actor award for the previous evening. Smith later announced his resignation from the Academy, and he was banned from all Academy events for a decade.

In July, four months after slapping Rock at the Oscars, Smith shared a five-minute-long apology video in which he said he had been “doing a lot of thinking and personal work”. He added that he had reached out to Rock, but that the message came that back was that he was “not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out”.

Rock has referenced the incident multiple times in his stand-up performances since. During a set in Boston shortly after the altercation, the comedian told the audience he was “still kind of processing what happened”.

In May, Rock joined Dave Chappelle during a stand-up show in Los Angeles, shortly after Chappelle was attacked onstage while appearing at the Hollywood Bowl. The two comedians both joked about their respective incidents. Earlier this month, during a set in Atlanta, Rock joked that he had been slapped by “Suge Smith” during the altercation, referencing former Death Row CEO Suge Knight.

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