“There’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” Washington, 67, said during a panel at the T.D. Jakes Leadership Summit on Saturday, April 2, via The Wrap’s livestream. “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.”
During the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, the Everybody Hates Chris creator made headlines after joking about Jada Pinkett Smith — who wed the 53-year-old Philadelphia native in 1997 — and her shaved head. Rock, 57, quipped that Pinkett Smith, 50, could star in a potential G.I. Jane sequel. The Maryland native, whose shaved head is the result of her battle with alopecia, rolled her eyes during the broadcast. Smith, for his part, stormed the Dolby Theatre stage and smacked Rock across the face.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth,” Smith yelled after returning to his seat. Shortly after the incident, several stars attempted to play peacemaker including Washington, Tyler Perry and Diddy.
“No way I could have sat in my seat,” the Tragedy of Macbeth star, who was nominated for Best Lead Actor during the awards show, said on Saturday. “That’s just not who I am. … Fortunately, there were people there, not just me but others, [like] Tyler Perry, came immediately right over there with me.”
While the Fences star declined to reveal the specific details of the actors’ conversation, he noted that they offered Smith prayers.
“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,” Washington added.
While the Academy made sure to keep Smith and Rock separate for the duration of the ceremony, Smith eventually took home the Best Lead Actor trophy for his role as Richard Williams — the father of Serena Williams and Venus Williams — in King Richard.
“Denzel said a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,’” Smith recalled of his conversation with Washington while accepting the trophy. “It’s like, I want to be a vessel for love. … That’s what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern.”
While Us Weekly confirmed that Rock declined to file a police report after the encounter, Smith has publicly apologized for his actions and resigned as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.