Minutes after Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, Washington was seen consoling the King Richard star during commercial break. Smith ended up winning the Best Actor category later that night, and revealed what Washington had told him after the incident.
“Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you,’” Smith told the audience during his acceptance speech.
Washington was asked about the moment while attending bishop T.D. Jakes’ leadership summit on Saturday, and attempted to shed more light on his “devil” comments.
“Well, there’s a saying, ‘When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,’” he said, as reported Variety. “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.”
Washington, who has two Oscars under his belt, remained relatively tight-lipped about what he told Smith, but confirmed he had joined the actor in prayer during the ceremony.
“Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others,” he continued. “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.”
Shortly after Smith issued a public apology to Rock, he announced his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“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 a statement. “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. 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 [...] change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
The Academy accepted the resignation, but said its Board of Governors will continue its disciplinary proceedings against Smith.