Chris Rock turns down offer to host Oscars next year

Chris Rock was slapped by actor Will Smith during the Oscars ceremony in March after joking about Smith's wife. PHOTO: AFP

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - American comedian Chris Rock has turned down an invitation to host next year's Academy Awards, comparing a return to the Oscars like returning to a crime scene.

Rock, 57, was famously slapped by actor Will Smith, 53, during the Oscars ceremony in March after the comedian joked about Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia and appeared with a shaved head.

During a show at Arizona Financial Theatre in downtown Phoenix, Arizona on Sunday (Aug 28), Rock said returning to the Oscars would like asking Nicole Brown Simpson "to go back to the restaurant".

He was making a reference to the 1995 murder trial of disgraced American football star O.J. Simpson, whose ex-wife's death began with her mother leaving her glasses behind in a restaurant.

Rock said the slap from Smith hurt and referred to Smith's role as late boxer Muhammad Ali in the movie Ali (2001).

"He's bigger than me. The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith," he said.

Rock had previously hosted the Oscars in 2005 and 2016.

The comedian also said on Sunday that he has turned down an offer to film a Super Bowl commercial, without naming the company, according to The Arizona Republic newspaper.

Smith, who won Best Actor for his role in King Richard (2021) at the Oscars in March, was banned from attending the ceremony for 10 years after the infamous slap.

He made a public apology shortly after the incident and posted another apology to Rock and his family in a video on social media on July 29.

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