Denzel Washington has defended Will Smith following his altercation with Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars.
During the ceremony on March 27, Rock made a “joke” on stage about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, referring to her as “G.I. Jane” because of her shaven head. Pinkett Smith has been open in the past about suffering from alopecia.
Smith then went on stage and slapping the comedian, before then twice shouting “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth” when he returned to his seat.
Washington was seen consoling Smith after the altercation, with Smith going on to thank him during his acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role: “What I loved was, Denzel [Washington] said to me a few moments ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you’.”
On Saturday, Washington made an appearance at Pastor T.D. Jakes’ Leadership Summit, where he spoke publicly about the incident for the first time.
“Well, there’s a saying, ‘When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong’,” he said (via Variety). “The devil goes, ‘Oh no, leave him alone, he’s my favourite.’ 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.”
Washington continued: “Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others. Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me. [Said] some prayers. I don’t wanna say what we talked about, 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 the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it.”
Following the ceremony, the LAPD confirmed that Rock is not pressing charges against Smith at present, saying in a statement: “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program.
“The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
Meanwhile, Smith has formally resigned from The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In a statement shared by Smith’s publicist, the actor said he “will fully accept any and all consequences for [his] conduct”.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith said. “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.”
Since the incident, Smith has been condemned by a number of celebrities including A$AP Rocky, Janet Hubert, Jim Carrey, Amy Schumer and Zoë Kravitz.