Denzel Washington was seen speaking intimately with Will Smith shortly after the King Richard actor got up on stage and slapped host Chris Rock during the Oscars’ live telecast. Smith was responding to a joke Rock had made about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who has alopecia and wears her hair shaved. Rock referred to her as “G.I. Jane” which Smith took offense to on her behalf.
Washington was in the audience, having been nominated for his role in Macbeth. Both he and writer/director Tyler Perry went and spoke with Smith during a break in the show and before he was ultimately awarded an Oscar for best actor. On Saturday, April 2, Washington made an appearance with author and pastor T.D. Jakes during his International Leadership Summit, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, and the events of the evening came up. Jakes joked that Washington approaching Smith at the Oscars was like he had “stepped in the middle of World War III.”
“There’s a saying: When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” Washington responded. “The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him alone. He’s my favorite.’ Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because you’re trying to do something right. And for whatever reason, the devil got ahold of that circumstance that night.”
He did not get into specifics about what was said between them all, but he did say they prayed together and would not criticize his fellow actor.
“There but for the grace of God, go any of us. Who are we to condemn?” Washington wondered. “I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer.”
He elaborated later, saying, “I couldn’t have sat in my seat. No way I could have sat in my seat. That’s just not who I am.”
Since the slap, Smith has apologized multiple times and announced he was resigning from the Academy on April 1. He has said he’s ready to “fully accept any and all consequences” that result from a disciplinary hearing by the Academy board.
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