Chris Rock, 57, admitted to declining a request for him to return as host for the 2023 Academy Awards, according to the Arizona Republic. The comedian apparently compared returning to the stage at the Oscars, where he was slapped by Will Smith last year, as returning to the scene of a crime, during his comedy show at the Arizona Financial Theatre in Phoenix, AZ. He also referenced the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson when he reportedly noted it would be like asking the late Nicole Brown Simpson to return “to go back to the restaurant” where she left a pair of eyeglasses the night of her death.
Chris also reportedly talked about the actual slap earlier in his set that night when he said it hurt and referenced how the actor played the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in a movie. “He’s bigger than me,” Chris said, the outlet further reported. “The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”
Chris’ latest remarks at his recent comedy show aren’t the first ones he’s made about the now infamous slap. He’s been known to speak about the memorable moment at several of his comedy shows since the incident happened in March. At a show in New Jersey in July, he reportedly said he wasn’t “a victim” and added, “Yeah, that s**t hurt, motherf**ker. I shook that s**t off and went to work the next day… I don’t go to the hospital for a papercut.”
In July, Will broke his silence by taking to his YouTube page to share a video in which he publicly apologized for the slap. “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out. So I will I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable,” he said while sitting and looking directly at the camera, in the video.
“I want to apologize to Chris’s mother,” he continued. “I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did. And that was one of the things about that moment I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking but how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family. Specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. And this probably irreparable.”