Jimmy Kimmel is starting off the 2023 Oscars with a slap to the system.
The host of the 95th Academy Awards, who marks his third time MC’ing the annual awards ceremony, started his opening monologue by addressing the 2022 Oscars slap.
“We want you to have fun, we want you to be safe, and most importantly, we want me to be safe,” Kimmel said. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence anytime during this show, you will be presented the Oscar for Best Actor and be permitted to give an 18-minute long speech.”
Kimmel noted that is a “crisis team” in place, but in case things do go sideways, he joked, “Just do what you did last year – nothing. Sit there and do absolutely nothing. Maybe give the assailant a hug.”
The host said, “If anyone tries anything, you’re going to have to get through the heavyweight champ Adonis Creed,” showing Michael B. Jordan, “you’re going to have to battle with Michelle Yeoh before you get to me, you’re going to have to beat the Mandalorian [Pedro Pascal] before you get to me. You’re going to have to tangle with Spider-Man [Andrew Garfield], you’re going to have to tangle with Fabelman [Steven Spielberg]. And then you’re going to have through my right-hand man Guillermo [del Toro] if you want to get up to this stage.”
Kimmel added, “There will be no nonsense tonight. We have no time for shenanigans. You told us you want all the categories back and we listened. We will be showing all 23 categories live tonight. Except for one: Best Picture went to ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ earlier tonight…So no complaining about how long the show is. I saw all your movies. Now it’s your turn to sit in a theater for three and half hours.”
He noted that the “RRR” team will “dance you off stage” instead of being played off with songs.
Kimmel further welcomed the return to theater-going thanks to blockbusters like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” this year. “I also want to say that I’m happy to see Nicole Kidman has finally been released from that abandoned AMC where she has been held captive for almost two years now,” Kimmel joked, “and thank you for encouraging people who were already at the movie theater to go to the movie theater.”
He continued, “Tom Cruise and James Cameron didn’t show up tonight. The two guys who didn’t come to the theater didn’t come to the theater.”
With ozempic quips, poking fun at never-been-stoned Steven Spielberg despite helming “E.T.,” and honoring the 16 first-time acting nominees plus John Williams’ record-breaking nomination, Kimmel kicked off the awards show.
Kimmel added that “Till” and “The Woman King,” both snubbed by the Academy, are both “very worthy of your time if you haven’t seen them.”
Last year’s Best Actor winner Will Smith attacked presenter Chris Rock onstage following a quip about wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s haircut. Smith was later banned from all Academy events for the next decade; he can still however be nominated.
As for his monologue mentioning the slap, Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter, “I obviously don’t want to make the whole monologue about that, but it would be ridiculous not to mention it…If somebody comes up on the stage and slaps me? Well, I size them up, and, if I’m bigger than they are, I beat the shit out of them on television. And if it’s the Rock, I run.”
He previously told People magazine, “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.”
The late night host continued, “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.”
Kimmel also applauded how Rock handled the situation on the night of and months since the incident.
“I mean, to be slapped in the face and to stay that cool is something that Chris should be proud of,” Kimmel said. “Chris’ grandchildren, I hope, will still be proud of that when he’s dead and gone.”
Kimmel additionally addressed how the new champagne-colored carpet this year was an indicator that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was “confident” that “no blood will be shed” during the ceremony.
Rock revealed in August 2022 that he was originally asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to host the 2023 Oscars ceremony and turned it down. The stand-up comedian said going back to the Oscars would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where she left a pair of glasses the night she was murdered.
Rock said during a stand-up set, “Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face. I’m not a victim. Yeah, that shit hurt, motherfucker. But I shook that shit off and went to work the next day. I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut.”