Denzel Washington broke his silence on Will Smith’s Oscars slap on Saturday, speaking about his meeting with the actor shortly after the actor’s onstage assault on Chris Rock.
When Smith stepped onto the stage and slapped host Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, he stunned the audience. Following the slap, Washington and Tyler Perry were seen talking with Smith during the commercial break, perhaps encouraging him ahead of his first Oscar win for Best Actor.
Washington spoke with mega pastor T.D. Jakes on his career and faith at the mega pastor’s Leadership Summit on Saturday (the livestream of which TheWrap exclusively hosted), and he addressed what transpired at the Oscars. “You walked into World War III,” Jakes stated, as he questioned Smith about what had happened.
“There’s a saying that if the devil ignores you, you’re doing something wrong,” Washington said at the outset. “‘Oh no, leave him alone, he’s my favorite,’ says the devil (laughs). When the devil attacks you, it’s possible that he’s attempting to do the right thing. And the devil got a hold of him that night for whatever reason.”
Washington wouldn’t explain what he talked about with Smith and Perry, but he did say they prayed. “Fortunately, there were others there, not just myself, but others [like] Tyler Perry came right over there with me,” Washington explained. “A few words of prayer. I’m not going to reveal what we talked about, but none of us would be here if it weren’t for the mercy of God. Who are we to pass judgment on? I don’t know all the details of this case, but I do know that prayer was the only option, as far as I could tell.”
When Smith accepted his Best Actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard,” he apologized to the Academy and his other nominees, but he initially refused to apologize to Rock. Smith issued a statement the day after the Oscars in which he apologized to Rock: “I would like to openly apologize to you, Chris,” the message read in part. “I was both out of line and incorrect. I’m embarrassed, and my actions do not reflect the guy I aspire to be.”
The consequences of Smith’s actions are still being felt, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opening an official investigation into the incident. Smith resigned from the Academy on Friday, saying he will take “any and all penalties” as a result of the assessment. “Change takes time, and I’m dedicated to putting in the effort to ensure that violence never again triumphs over reason,” the “King Richard” star stated.