Chris Rock has said he turned down an invitation to host the 2023 Academy Awards after he was infamously slapped by Will Smith in the middle of the evening in March this year.
During a comedy set at the Arizona Financial Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, the 57-year-old actor compared returning to the Oscars to returning to the scene of an accident, according to the Arizona Republic.
While discussing the offer to host, the comedian made a reference to the 1995 murder trial of OJ Simpson, noting that it would be like asking the late Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where her mother left her a pair of glasses on the night of his death.
Rock said Smith’s slap itself hurt him, referencing the actor’s portrayal of Muhammad Ali in the 2001 film Ali, and explained: “He’s bigger than me. The state of Nevada wouldn’t approve a fight between me and Will Smith.”
The star – who previously hosted the Oscars in 2005 and 2016 – added that she also turned down the chance to do a Super Bowl commercial after the slapping incident.
Earlier this month, new Academy CEO Bill Cramer revealed that the Oscars have no intention of revisiting the incident at next year’s ceremony.
“We want to move forward and have an Oscars that celebrates cinema. That’s our focus right now, but it’s really about moving forward.” said Cramer, who started in July after the departure of previous CEO Dawn Hudson.
During the March 27 awards show, Smith, 53, took the stage and slammed Rock after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bare head. (The 50-year-old actress suffers from alopecia.)
The hit led to months of turmoil for the best actor winner, who resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was banned from Academy events for 10 years.
The star apologized to The Rock in a statement on Instagram the next day.
The Rock has not officially commented on the televised physical attack, but did mention the slap on his latest comedy tour.
“Everybody’s trying to be a victim. If everybody claims to be a victim, then nobody’s going to hear the real ones. Even if I get hit by Smith… I went to work the next day, I’ve got kids. Anyone who says that words hurt, never been punched in the face”Rock then added.