Denzel Washington was one of the first people to speak with Will Smith after the King Richard star slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Now Washington is offering details on how he helped calm Smith down.
On Saturday, Washington sat down with Bishop T.D. Jakes at the megachurch pastor’s International Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. During a conversation about Washington’s faith and career, Jakes asked the acting legend what happened between Smith and Rock at the Academy Awards.
“Well, there’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” Washington said, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. “The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him alone, he’s my favorite.’ 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 a hold of him that night.”
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Washington added that they prayed together. “Fortunately there were people there, not just me but others. Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me,” he 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 this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer. The way I saw it. The way I see it.”
Washington, Perry, and Bradley Cooper were seen speaking with Smith moments after he smacked Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith, who won the best actor trophy at Sunday’s awards, has been weathering a growing career storm since his Oscars meltdown.
On Friday, he resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, saying he was “heartbroken” but ready to accept the consequences after receiving a disciplinary hearing notice from the academy.
Two days earlier, the Academy’s board of governors began disciplinary hearings on Smith and a possible suspension, expulsion or other sanctions based on the group’s code of conduct. During the board’s next meeting on April 18, it will decide what action, if any, to take against Smith.
SAG-AFTRA has also criticized Smith. On Thursday, the performers union issued a statement saying it had contacted the Academy over Smith’s actions and “will work to ensure this behavior is appropriately addressed.”
“As the union representing presenters and other performers working on the Oscars, SAG-AFTRA is focused on ensuring our members always work in a safe environment. Violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never appropriate and the union condemns any such conduct,” SAG-AFTRA said.
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