Denzel Washington Breaks His Silence On The Will Smith Controversy

Denzel Washington is certainly that friend that you want by your side, for better or for worse. Soon after Will Smith made the decision to get up on stage at the 2022 Oscars and slap Chris Rock across the face for a joke that he made about Jada Pinkett Smith, Washington was one of the first people to console the actor. Along with fellow Hollywood stars Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry, Smith was comforted by the trio as the rest of the audience in the room was still trying to process what had gone down.

But not everyone seemed to be as understanding. Oscars co-host Amy Schumer said that she is still feeling traumatized over the slap, while comedian Kathy Griffin wrote on Twitter, "Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters." Alec Baldwin also chimed in on the matter and said that the Oscars has turned into the "Jerry Springer Show."

But if there's one person that everyone wants to hear from, it's Washington, and thankfully, he's finally broken his silence about the slap that made him get out of his chair on Oscars night.

Denzel Washington is doing the one thing he can

While appearing on pastor T.D. Jakes' annual International Leadership Summit, Denzel Washington said that he's doing the one thing that he can following Will Smith's onstage slap against Chris Rock: He's praying about it. According to The Wrap, the "Tragedy of Macbeth" star claimed during the April 2 panel discussion that "for whatever reason, the devil got ahold" of Smith that night.

Explaining that he's not the kind of person to just sit there and let a moment like that unfold before his very eyes, Washington said that he's been dealing with the situation through "some prayers." While he didn't go into detail about what he said to Smith that night, Washington did say, per The Wrap, "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."

That said, this wasn't the first time that Washington offered Smith some sound advice. In an interview with People a month before the Oscars even happened, Smith said that he's always appreciated Washington lifting him up during times in need. He said, "We've spent a lot of time together. So we've been talking, he's always been a mentor for me and he grabbed me and he said, 'This is your year.'" In other words, everyone could sure use someone like Washington in their lives, right?

Hollywood weighed in

Denzel Washington is far from the only star to weigh in on the controversy, though. Jim Carrey shared a similar sentiment about Will Smith's dramatic moment seen around the world, admitting he believed Will was likely going through more than the world really knows when it came to his reaction to Chris Rock's joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. "[The slap] came out of nowhere because Will has something going on inside him that's frustrated. I wish him the best. I have nothing against Will Smith. He's done great things, but that was not a good moment. It cast a shadow over everyone's shining moment last night," he told "CBS Mornings" (via HuffPost) shortly after the Oscars ceremony, also describing it as "a selfish moment."

Then there were those who were just over the whole thing. One of those? Harry Potter himself, Daniel Ratcliffe. As pretty much anyone who's anyone in Hollywood shared their two cents on the moment, the actor wasn't too interesting in that — but kind of gave his opinion anyway. "I'm just so already dramatically bored of hearing people's opinions about it that I just don't want to be another opinion adding to it," he told "Good Morning Britain" on March 31. He also admitted that he too has struggled with some of the jokes made about him, sharing, "So you sort of have a mode of just being like, I'll just keep smiling and laughing and maybe it'll end soon."

Will Smith's apology

Will Smith has apologized for the incident, once sharing his regret during his emotional Best Actor acceptance speech during the Oscars ceremony and then again in a statement posted to Instagram. But that hasn't stopped the consequences from coming back to bite him. Will stepped down from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on April 1, saying in a statement, in part (via The Hollywood Reporter), "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."

But that doesn't mean Will is off the hook. The Academy had already started disciplinary proceedings against the actor, with a decision on his fate set to be decided on April 18. It was initially reported that he could be expelled or suspended, though it's unclear what his punishment could be in the wake of his resignation. The Academy confirmed it would still be pressing ahead and had accepted Will's resignation.

As for what Chris Rock has had to say about it all? He broke his silence during a comedy show on March 30, asking fans in attendance, "How was your weekend?", as he addressed the elephant in the room, per Variety. "I'm still processing what happened, so at some point, I'll talk about that s***. It'll be serious. It'll be funny, but right now I'm going to tell some jokes," he added.