By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Jimmy Kimmel says Chris Rock should be “proud” of his response to being slapped on-stage by Will Smith at last year’s Oscars.
Kimmel, who is due to host the star-studded event on March 12, said the incident was “still shocking” but hoped that lessons could be learned from it.
Smith resigned from the Academy and was banned from the organisation’s events for 10 years following the incident, which came in response to a joke made by the comedian about his wife’s haircut. Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia – something Rock had not been aware of.
Smith also apologised several times to Rock online, though Rock has never given an official response.
Kimmel has hosted the Oscars twice previously, first in 2017 and again in 2018.
Another infamous incident at the Oscars saw the film LaLa Land incorrectly announced as the winner of best picture instead of Moonlight.
Speaking to US outlet People less than two weeks from this year’s Oscars, Kimmel praised Rock’s conduct onstage in 2022.
“It’s still shocking that that happened,” he said.
“(And) for it to happen at 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.”
On Rock, he added: “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 comes as Smith made his first in-person appearance at an award show on Wednesday, when he attended the African American Film Critics Association Awards (AAFCA).
The 95th Academy Awards will be broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 12th.