‘The Devil Got Ahold of Him’

Denzel Washington has spoken out about what happened at the Academy Awards last week when his fellow Best Lead Actor nominee attacked Chris Rock on stage. Infamously, Will Smith approached the comedian and gave him a slap across the face, followed by screaming profanities at him shortly after that, all as a result of Rock joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Smith was allowed to remain at the ceremony and even accept his Oscar that night, both of which have drawn great criticism from viewers and other Hollywood stars alike.

For his part, Washington feels that the King Richard star had lost his composure at that time, but that this is not normal behavior for Smith. Perhaps because it was supposed to be a particularly good night for Smith, Washington feels that may have allowed for “the devil” to get involved by choosing that moment to take hold of Smith. Here’s how Washington explained it at TD Jakes’ leadership summit on Saturday, per Variety:


“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 him that night. “

Washington, who was also nominated for Best Lead Actor for his role in The Tragedy of Macbeth, could be seen speaking with Smith during commercial breaks during the Oscars broadcast after “the slap” happened. Smith also personally thanked Washington in his acceptance speech and noted how Washington had told him that at “your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.” Washington expanded upon this by explaining how he had joined a handful of others in approaching Smith after what happened, stating that they prayed and spoke with him in their efforts to restore some peace back into the situation.

“Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others, Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me. [Said] some prayers. I do not wanna say what we talked about, but there but for the grace of God go any of us. Who are we to condemn? I do not know all the ins and outs of the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I see it. “

Related: Samuel L. Jackson Receives Honorary Oscar from Denzel Washington

Will Smith Has Resigned From The Academy


Will Smith apologized to his fellow nominees and the King Richard team during his acceptance speech, but he notably did not apologize to Rock, the man whom he’d attacked earlier that evening. Smith did offer a public apology to Rock on Instagram the next day, noting that resorting to violence as he had was “inexcusable.” It was announced that a formal review with potential consequences had begun by the Academy, but Smith has gone ahead and resigned from the Academy. Additional consequences, such as potentially having his Oscar rescinded, could still happen.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. 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 said in his statement announcing his resignation.

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