In the moments after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars last week, Denzel Washington leaned on his faith for help.
During an appearance at bishop T.D. Jakes’ leadership summit Saturday, Washington spoke about the incident and though he remained coy about what Smith and him spoke about, the “Tragedy of Macbeth” actor said he turned to prayer.
“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 said in a video shared to Jakes’ Twitter account. “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 ahold of that circumstance that night.”
During the Oscars, Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock after the comedian joked about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s bald head. Following the altercation, celebrities including Keith Urban, Ariana DeBose and Daniel Kaluuya flocked to the couple’s side. Tyler Perry and Washington were among the stars who spent time talking to the “King Richard” star.
Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock after slapping him at Oscars over joke: ‘I was out of line’
“Fortunately there were people there. … Tyler Perry came immediately over there with me, (said) some prayers. I don’t want say what we talked about…” Washington said. “Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it.”
Smith went on to win the best actor trophy, saying “love makes you do crazy things” and apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees in his acceptance speech, during which he shared the exchange he had with fellow nominee Washington after the fight: “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”
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The following day, Smith apologized to Rock on Instagram condemning violence “in all its forms” and also apologizing to the Academy, the Oscars’ producers, everyone in attendance and everyone watching from home.
“I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” he wrote.
Three days after the slap heard around the world, Rock performed a sold-out show in Boston at the Wilbur Theater where he only briefly addressed the incident during his show, saying he was “still kind of processing what happened.”
“Other than the weird thing, life is pretty good,” Rock said midway through his first of two sets.
Smith went on to resign from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences days after the Oscars.
He announced in a statement sent by his reps to USA TODAY Friday that he will be withdrawing from the Academy due to his “shocking, painful and inexcusable” actions.
“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,” Smith continued. “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.”
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Contributing: Pamela Avila and Charles Trepany