Denzel Washington Publicly Talks Will Smith Oscars Slap for First Time

Denzel Washington, who huddled with Will Smith moments after the King Richard actor slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, talked about the incident publicly for the first time Saturday.

Speaking to author and bishop T.D. Jakes at a leadership summit, Washington said that he joined Smith in prayer soon after the instantly infamous incident, Variety reports; Smith himself said during his acceptance speech for Best Actor — which Washington was also nominated for — that Washington pulled him aside and said, “At your highest moment, be careful — that’s when the devil comes for you.”

During his conversation with Jakes — who noted that the actor “stepped in the middle of World War III” at the Academy Awards — Washington paraphrased the scripture he told Smith after the incident. “Well, there’s a saying, ‘When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong.’ The devil goes, ‘Oh no, leave him alone, he’s my favorite,’” Washington said Saturday. “Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because he’s trying to do something right. And for whatever reason the devil got ahold of that circumstance that night.”

Soon after Smith lashed out at Rock both physically and verbally following a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, celebrities in the audience — including Washington, Tyler Perry and Bradley Cooper — were seen talking to the upset Smith during a commercial break.

“Fortunately there were people there,” Washington added. “Not just me, but others, Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me. [Said] some prayers. I don’t wanna say what we talked about, but there but for the grace of God go any of us. Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it.”

On Friday, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a statement where he accepted “all consequences for my conduct.”

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith wrote. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work.”

Smith continued, “I am heartbroken… Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

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