Chris Rock has a theory about why he was picked to host this year’s Oscars: “Ellen said no.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter conducted in December of last year, Rock joked that he probably wasn’t the first choice to host Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.
“I’m only here because Ellen didn’t want to do the show,” Rock said of Ellen DeGeneres, who last hosted in 2014. “I’m only here because Ellen said no, and I’m sure she said no, like, eight times. She did so good the last time she hosted the show. That’s kind of the standard.”
DeGeneres was hailed for her performance as Oscars emcee in 2014, especially for the way she worked interactive bits into the show. She memorably posed for a selfie with stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Channing Tatum, and more. Her tweet of the photo was shared more than 3.3 million times.
“I don’t do what she does, but I can admire it,” Rock said. “I guess I can take a selfie.”
The interview was conducted before this year’s Oscar nominations were announced, so Rock did not make any direct comment on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy (for the second year in a row, every acting nominee at the Academy Awards is white). The comic did address “risqué” material, however, and where he expected to draw the line.
“You’ll probably say something more risqué at 10:30 than you will at 8:30,” he said. “Right now I’m just concentrating on the movies. You know, what’s the subjects that are big right now in Hollywood.”
Rock has not commented on the diversity issue at length, but did call the Oscars ceremony the “white BET Awards” in a tweeted posted after the nominations were announced.