Denzel Washington spoke at an event on Saturday with Bishop T.D. Jakes in which he talked about the controversy and backlash following Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards last Sunday. This comes after Smith resigned from the Academy on Friday.
It is the first time Washington publicly address the moment he, Tyler Perry and others spoke to Smith after the altercation. Video from inside the event showed Washington as one of the people comforting Smith.
Denzel Washington & Tyler Perry had to calm & comfort Will Smith & Jada during the break. That slap to Chris Rock was REAL. #Oscars
— Call me Kari (@SneakerPhetish) March 28, 2022
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Jakes told Washington during his International Leadership Summit that he “stepped in the middle of World War III.”
Washington spoke with both humor and seriousness.
He said, “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. 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.”
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He didn't give much detail, but did talk a little bit about what he spoke with Smith about.
“Fortunately, there were people there, not just me but others. Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me,” he said, as reported by Deadline.
He said they had “some prayers,” adding, “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.”
On getting up to go check on Smith following the matter, Washington explained, “I couldn’t have sat in my seat. No way I could have sat in my seat,” he said. “That’s just not who I am.”
Friday, Smith released a statement about his Academy resignation.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” the statement reads in part. “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. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
The Academy’s Board of Governors plans to convene April 18, which is when the Board of Governors will decide what kind of disciplinary actions to slap (pun not intended) Smith with.
Smith issued an apology on social media earlier this week.
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