Denzel Washington explains why he thinks Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars

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Denzel Washington has shared his views on the Will Smith Oscars slap after consoling him in the immediate aftermath.

Washington was one of the first people to talk with the actor following the incident that saw the actor stride on stage to hit Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

While Smith claimed that he was defending Pinkett Smith from a joke about her alopecia diagnosis, a source close to Rock says he “had no idea” about it. Smith, who faces disciplinary action from the Academy, announced his resignation from the awards body on Friday 1 April.

On Saturday 2 April, Washington spoke about the matter publicly for the first time at a Leadership Summit in Washington DC. During Smith’s tearful Best Actor speech, which he delivered after winning for King Richard within the hour after her hit Rock, the actor said that Washington told him: “In your highest moments, be careful; that’s when the devil comes for you.”

According to Deadline, Washington, acknowledging his comments to Smith, said of the incident: “There’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong. The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him alone, he’s my favourite.’

“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 said that him and Smith prayed after the actor hit Rock.

“Fortunately there were people there, not just me but others. Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me. Some prayers,” Washington said.

“I don’t wanna say what we talked about – but there 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 this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer. The way I saw it. The way I see it.”

Will Smith delivered a tearful acceptance speech after hitting Chris Rock at the Oscars (Getty Images)
Will Smith delivered a tearful acceptance speech after hitting Chris Rock at the Oscars (Getty Images)

After Smith issued an apology to Rock, the comedian said, during his first stand-up show since the incident on Wednesday 30 March, he was “still processing” what happened.

Find out exactly what Smith’s Academy resignation means for his future at the Oscars here.

Footage showing Pinkett Smith’s reaction to the incident surfaced online days after it occurred. Meanwhile, a video showing Rock, looking dazed in the immediate aftermath of being hit, has been shared around social media.