Denzel Washington, 67, is recalling the conversation he had with Will Smith, 53, after the shocking slapping incident involving Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards. The actor made an appearance at author and bishop T.D. Jakes’ leadership summit to discuss his career and faith on the morning of Apr. 2, and was asked about the headline-making news as well as the advice he gave Will, which was mentioned during his Oscar acceptance speech.
“Well, 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 he’s trying to do something right. And for whatever reason the devil got ahold of that circumstance that night,” Denzel said while on stage at the summit, according to Variety.
Denzel is one of a few people, which included Tyler Perry and Will’s publicist, who spoke to Will right after he walked up on stage and slapped Chris for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith‘s shaved head. The King Richard star thanked Denzel for telling him, “at your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you” while accepting the honor of Best Actor just moments later.
“Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others, Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me. [Said] some prayers,” Denzel also reportedly said at the summit. “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 the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it.”
After Will’s slap caused an uproar on social media and beyond, he publicly apologized to Chris and anyone else his actions hurt, in a statement. “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,” his statement, which was released on Friday, read. “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.”
As a result of his actions, Will resigned from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy also revealed it is doing an investigation into the incident. Chris, has yet to make an official public statement about the slap, but did say he was “still processing” what happened during his stand-up show in Boston, MA