Oscars Host Jimmy Kimmel Had Some Praise For Chris Rock While Recalling Will Smith’s Slap

Jimmy Kimmel and Chris Rock on the Oscars stage
(Image credit: The Academy Awards)

Jimmy Kimmel is no stranger to Oscar debacles. The first year the comedian hosted the awards show, 2017, the wrong Best Picture winner was announced on live television. While it was an infamous moment in Academy Awards history, in hindsight, it seems rather quaint compared to the 2022 moment that saw Will Smith walk on stage and slap Chris Rock. This year marks Jimmy Kimmel's return to the ceremony stage, and he had some words of praise for Rock while recalling the internet-shattering moment. 

The Man Show veteran got honest about the slap during an interview with People. It goes without saying that it was an unexpected development, and Jimmy Kimmel would agree with that viewpoint. For him, the incident is still shocking and feels more like something you’d see on bad daytime talk shows than on the most prestigious award show. So how does the talk show host think the moment will be viewed down the road? Here's what he told the outlet:

It’s still shocking that that happened. To see something like that happen outside of like The Maury Povich Show is shocking. And then for it to happen on the Oscars magnifies it by about a million times…. I think it’s something that everybody regrets and that we will move past. One day it will be looked at in the same way as that guy running onstage naked is looked at: a weird moment that we all talked about and we hopefully learn from.

While many have had strong words on Will Smith's actions, much has also been said about how Chris Rock handled the situation. The comic, at the time, continued presenting as planned after Smith slapped him and yelled expletives from his seat. With all of that in mind, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! presenter believes that Rock should be proud of how he kept his composure:

I mean, to be slapped in the face and to stay that cool is something that Chris should be proud of. Chris’s grandchildren, I hope, will still be proud of that when he’s dead and gone.

It’s been a year since Will Smith took the stage to defend his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the subject of a joke Chris Rock made. However, the outrageous moment is still something on people’s minds, only exasperated by the fact that the 95th Academy Awards Award ceremony is right around the corner and is the first show since the incident. Here’s hoping that when the ceremony finally hits the 2023 TV schedule, it goes off without a hitch and with no significant controversies. 

While the comedic star has been silent about the event over the past year, it was recently reported that the Spiral actor has plans to share his thoughts on the Will Smith slap during a new standup special. If fellow comedian Marlon Wayans (who went on tour with Rock and Dave Chapelle) is to be believed, they haven’t stopped joking about the incident in private, so I’m sure Rock will have plenty of material about the situation. 

You can catch Jimmy Kimmel hosting (a hopefully scandal-free ceremony) when the 95th Academy Awards air on March 12. Chris Rock's newest stand-up special will stream live on Netflix tonight, March 4, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. All you need to watch is a Netflix subscription. Until then, cinema fans might be interested in our list of the 6 biggest Oscar scandals

Ryan LaBee

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing. An expert in all things horror, Ryan enjoys covering a wide variety of topics. He's also a lifelong comic book fan and an avid watcher of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.