Denzel Washington Defends Will Smith: “Who Are We to Condemn?”

"For whatever reason, the devil got a hold of him that night"

Denzel Washington with Will Smith at Oscars

Immediately after assaulting Chris Rock at the Oscars, Will Smith was consoled by Denzel Washington. During an appearance at Pastor T.D. Jakes’ Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Washington spoke for the first time about the incident.

During his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Smith thanked Washington for his support. “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,” Smith recalled Washington telling him.

Washington shared a similar message on Saturday. “There’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” Washington said (via 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 a hold of him that night.”

Washington declined to say what he told Smith, other than that they prayed together. “Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others. Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me. [We said] some prayers. I don’t wanna say what we talked about, but for the grace of God go any of us,” Washington stated.

“Who are we to condemn?” Washington added. “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.”

While Washington won’t condemn Smith, plenty of others have. Jim Carrey called people applauding Smith “spineless,” Alec Baldwin felt the world needed to hear his thoughts for some reason, and hosts Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer have both said that the incident left them feeling “traumatized.”

On Friday, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and said he would accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.


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