Denzel Washington Breaks His Silence on Will Smith: 'Who Are We to Condemn?'
Denzel Washington, who was intimately involved in calming Will Smith after Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith on the Oscars stage last Sunday, has finally broken his silence about the controversial moment.
People reports Washington opened up at Pastor T.D. Jakes' annual International Leadership Summit on Saturday, where he started by explaining why he interceded.
"No way I could have sat in my seat," the 67-year-old Oscar winner said. "That's just not who I am."
According to Smith, who reported Washington's words of wisdom in his acceptance speech, Washington had counseled him, 'At your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you."
At the summit, Washington explained, "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 him that night."
Saying he was grateful that "others, [like] Tyler Perry" were also on hand to speak with Smith on Oscars night, Washington declined to go into detail about what he told Smith after the slap. "I don't wanna say what we talked about, but there but for the grace of God go any of us."
He went on to defend Smith, cautioning, "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 Friday, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
In a statement, Smith called his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable.”
He added, “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.”
Will acknowledged that what he did overshadowed the show and its winners.
He said, “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.”
Smith also noted that he would accept any additional consequences from the Academy.
He stressed, “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
In response to Smith's statement, Academy president David Rubin said, "We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith's immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 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.”
Earlier this week, the Academy revealed that “disciplinary proceedings” had been initiated.