Third time’s the charm! Jimmy Kimmel will host the 2023 Academy Awards, marking his return to the Oscars telecast after a five-year break.
“Being invited to host the Oscars for a third time is either a great honor or a trap,” the talk show host, 54, said in a statement to Variety on Monday, November 7, after ABC announced him as the host. “Either way, I am grateful to the Academy for asking me so quickly after everyone good said no.”
The telecast’s executive producers and showrunners, Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, praised Kimmel in a joint statement announcing his return: “We’re super thrilled to have Jimmy score his hat trick on this global stage. We know he will be funny and ready for anything.”
Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer and Academy president Janet Yang added that the comedian was the “perfect” choice for the Oscars’ 95th celebration. “His love of movies, live TV expertise, and ability to connect with our global audiences will create an unforgettable experience for our millions of viewers worldwide,” they said.
Kimmel has previously hosted the Oscars twice, in 2017 and 2018, respectively. His first time helming the awards featured the now-famous Best Picture mix-up, when presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced that La La Land had won the night’s top prize, when it actually went to Moonlight.
“It was a lot of fun, until the end,” the Man Show alum recalled during his monologue on a February 2017 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “It was going very well, we were chugging along, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it turned into one of those Maury Povich paternity test shows.” Kimmel added that he wasn’t sure how to react to the incident and keep everyone calm as the cast and crews of both films were standing onstage. “Who the hell even knows who is who from which movie? I’m standing there like an idiot, feeling bad for these guys — but also trying really hard not to laugh, to be honest,” he explained.
Kimmel continued: “[For hours afterward,] I was like, ‘Hey, no, I didn’t. I did not pull a prank. If I’d pulled a prank, I wouldn’t have just had the wrong winner’s name on the envelope. There would have been a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon in there.’”
The following year, the Crank Yankers alum told Good Morning America that he enjoys when things “go wrong” during major television events. “I like when things go wrong, I’m OK with it,” Kimmel said in February 2018. “People don’t even realize this but during our rehearsal [last year], on the day of the Oscars, the whole set fell down. I’m not talking about a little piece of set, I’m talking about a huge wooden structure came crashing down to the floor.”
Though Kimmel is no stranger to hosting the Oscars, he may not have been the Academy’s first choice. In August, Chris Rock joked that that producers had approached him about hosting the 2023 ceremony, but that he turned it down after being slapped by Will Smith at last year’s awards. According to the Arizona Republic, the Everybody Hates Chris alum, 57, told the audience at a comedy show in Phoenix, Arizona, that hosting the Oscars would be like returning to the scene of a crime.
Referencing the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, Rock added that returning to the awards show would be like asking the late Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where she left her eyeglasses before being killed in 1994.
The Grown Ups star was slapped in the face by Smith, 53, after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s hair while presenting an award at the ceremony in March. After telling Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum has apologized multiple times for his actions, starting with his Best Actor acceptance speech later that night. The following day, Smith issued a public apology and later resigned from the Academy. In April, the King Richard star was banned from all Academy events — including the Oscars — for a decade as a result of the incident.
Smith once again expressed remorse for his behavior in a lengthy video shared via Instagram in July, where he stated that he hoped to one day apologize to Rock in person. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults. … I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk,” he said at the time.