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Chris Rock Declined Offer To Host 2023 Oscars After Will Smith Slap

At a recent stand-up performance, Chris Rock reveals he turned down the opportunity to host next year’s Oscars. Since leaving Saturday Night Live, Rock has remained one of the most successful stand-up comics in the businessAfter making waves in the late ’90s with a series of well-loved stand-up specials, Rock made the leap to the big screen, appearing in hits such as the Madagascar films, and directing his own Top Five in 2014. To date, Rock has hosted the Academy Awards twice: once in 2005, and again in 2016, during what was dubbed the ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ ceremony.

Despite Rock’s success as the award show’s emcee, any future hosting appearances were put in jeopardy during 2022’s ceremony, where Will Smith infamously slapped Rock across the face after Rock made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The fallout from this event has been extensive for both parties, especially after Smith received a 10-year ban from attending the Oscars several months after the incident. Though Smith has issued a formal apology to Rock, the comedian has said very little about the incident, mainly touching on his perspective in various stand-up appearances.

During a packed stand-up set in Arizona Sunday night, as reported on by AZ Central, Rock addressed the Oscars incident, and revealed the Academy had reached out to him to with an offer to host the Oscars in 2023. He declined the offer. Rock expressed no desire to return to the Oscars in the near future, comparing himself to O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife returning to the scene of the crime. Rock also revealed that a major company had asked him to be in a Super Bowl commercial, but he also declined that opportunity.

Rock’s decision to cut ties with the Oscars is a predictable but still upsetting end to his reign as one of the more energetic hosts of the last 20 years. At the 2005 ceremony, Rock took aim at his fellow Hollywood stars, even going so far as to call out Jude Law for his ubiquity during the 2004 awards season. In 2016, Rock was not afraid to call out the Academy for its near-nonexistent display of diversity and representation, spending the majority of his monologue discussing this injustice. Still, it is clear that Rock remains shaken by what happened this year. Rock’s remorse towards what he did towards both Smith and Smith’s career is perhaps what prompts the decision to step back from any forthcoming Oscars appearances.

The revelation that Rock was approached to host this year’s Oscars, while an example of the consequences that have reached Smith but largely avoided Rock, ultimately illuminates the fact that, once again, the Academy is having trouble filling its hosting position. After two years of hostless shows, and a year when Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall hosted the ceremony, the Oscars seem to want to return to a safe bet, and Smith may be the latest trusted choice that is turning them down. It remains to be seen how the Academy will go ahead with filling that position given the uneasy atmosphere around going onstage and telling jokes in front of celebrities following the Smith incident. As for Rock, it looks like his path going forward will be marked by each successive stand-up show he performs, regardless of whether he mentions the Smith incident at all.

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