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‘Who Are We to Condemn?’: Denzel Washington Opens Up About Comforting Will Smith After He Attacked Chris Rock at Oscars

“At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.” 

Veteran actor and Hollywood statesman Denzel Washington uttered those words to Will Smith, during the commercial break immediately after the “King Richard” assaulted Chris Rock live on-air at the 2020 Academy Awards ceremony.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 25: Denzel Washington speaks onstage during the 2022 Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 25, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Video footage captured the “Macbeth” actor and Tyler Perry talking to Smith about his life-altering actions. When Smith won his first Oscar ever, for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father, he shared with the audience that adage of wisdom.

Washington believes his compassionate actions were what a brother is supposed to do for another, and was glad he and the other men were there to settle the rocky waters.

On April 2, he said to Variety magazine, “Fortunately there were people there. Not just me, but others. 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?” Washington continued.

The fallout has been tremendous, with all sorts of voices weighing in on who was right or wrong, what disciplinary actions should be taken, and above all if Jada was truly upset

Washington has kept his comments to a minimum, claiming he doesn’t know the details of the outburst but he stepped up and did what was right from his perspective, “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.” 

Since the show, Smith has apologized twice and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences membership, a roster that became more diverse and inclusive after he and his wife launched a boycott in 2016.

A statement from Smith read, “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,” he said, adding, “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Rock did not immediately give his comments about the ordeal. Will Packer said, when pressed, the comedian did not want to press charges against the West Philadelphia native.

He did say during a performance in Boston the following Wednesday, “I don’t have a bunch of sh-t about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point, I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”

The Academy has spoken, saying it is working with authorities in an investigation into the assault this week. It plans to give its formal statement of disciplinary actions on April 18 at the board’s meeting.

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