The last time Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars, he presided over Envelopegate — the infamous incident when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly announced La La Land as Best Picture instead of Moonlight. This year, the late-night host is emceeing the ceremony once again as the Oscars seeks to move on from the moment of notoriety that defined last year’s telecast: Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.
And as Kimmel likes to remind everyone, no blows were thrown on his watch, even at the height of the Best Picture crisis. “Nobody got hit when I hosted the show,” Kimmel jokes in a new interview with Good Morning America‘s Lara Spencer. “Everybody was well-behaved at my Oscars!”
While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the group that oversees the Academy Awards — would rather put the Slap in the rearview, Kimmel knows that the audience inside the Dolby Theatre, along with millions more watching at home, are going to be waiting for his take on the Smith/Rock feud. “I think I have some good things to say about it,” he teases to Spencer. “It’s going to be on everybody’s mind: everybody’s going to be waiting for that moment. That will be part of the show, but certainly not the focus of the show.”
This will be Kimmel’s third time hosting the Oscars, and he’s got a family connection to the 2023 ceremony: his wife, Molly McNearney, is one of the executive producers. That means he’s already received the heads up that the proceedings will definitely run long this year, as all of the nominated categories will be featured during the telecast, as opposed to last year’s controversial choice to exile some winners to a pre-show presentation.
“This show is going to be so long, you might get to sleep in the next morning,” Kimmel joked to Spencer. “There’s not a fear, there’s a guarantee. Those categories, they take space. Unless the speeches are four seconds long, it’s gonna be a lengthy night. But hopefully not a long night.”
Among the highlights that Kimmel is personally looking forward to are Rihanna’s performance of her Oscar-nominated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever song — “Rihanna is more pregnant than the Super Bowl,” he says — and getting to have some fun with Top Gun: Maverick star, Tom Cruise. “I always have fun with Tom. Fun will be had with Tom on Sunday night.”
And Kimmel will have a lot more fun without his longtime frenemy, Matt Damon, in the audience. “Matt Damon was not invited, and was not nominated and I hope he’s never invited or nominated again,” he says of the Bourne Identity star, who he previously goofed on the last time he hosted the Oscars. “I think he should come back when Will Smith comes back!”
The 95th Academy Awards air March 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT