Actor Denzel Washington held firm to his faith Saturday when asked to weigh in on his effort to address Will Smith slapping Chris Rock moments after the incident stating, “Who are we to condemn?”
Washington attended pastor T.D. Jakes’ International Leadership Summit Saturday morning where he discussed his life, career and Christian faith. During their panel talk, Jakes offered the actor an opportunity to speak on the actions he took at the 94th Academy Awards.
“You stepped in the middle of World War III,” Jakes said according to the Wrap. Washington had taken an emotional Smith aside after the slap to Rock that had been predicated on a poorly received joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness.
“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 began.
“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,” he went on, in a similar vein to his reported statements from the Oscars where Washington told Smith, “At your highest moment that’s when the devil comes for you.”
Following the moment in which Will Smith seemingly slapped Chris Rock at the #Oscars, Smith is comforted by Tyler Perry and Denzel Washington. He appears to wipe away tears before rejoining his wife pic.twitter.com/TyXPQe1WGY
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 28, 2022
“Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others [like] Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me. Some prayers,” Washington explained, were offered. “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.”
Both Smith and Washington had been nominated in the Best Actor category. Washington’s nomination was for his portrayal of Macbeth in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Smith, who took home the award shortly after the volatile incident, had been nominated for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father and coach to tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, in the film “King Richard.”
Smith has since resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after issuing a public apology to Rock and anyone else he may have hurt because of his behavior. He echoed those sentiments in his letter to the Academy where he 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,” he continued before later concluding, “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Dave Rubin, president of the Academy, accepted the resignation and explained that an investigation was still ongoing as to whether further actions must be taken. Rubin stated, “We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”
Rock, who had refused to press charges, has yet to issue any statement on the incident, choosing instead to tell attendees at his “Ego Death” comedy show that he was “still kind of processing what happened.”
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