Will Smith revealed what Denzel Washington said to him immediately after he hit Chris Rock at the Oscars.
During the ceremony, which took place in Los Angeles on Saunday (27 March), Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, while he was presenting an award.
“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” Rock said, seemingly referring to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Last year, Pinkett Smith revealed that she had been diagnosed with alopecia.
After the comedian made the quip, Smith walked onto the stage and hit Rock, before returning to his seat and shouting: “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth.”
Immediately after, fellow actors Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry could be seen speaking to Smith, appearing to console him.
When Smith won Best Actor for king richard Approximately 15 minutes later, he referenced a piece of advice Washington had just given him during his tearful speech.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith said. “I know, to do what we do, we’ve gotta be able to take abuse. You’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespect you. You’ve gotta smile and pretend that’s okay.
He then revealed what “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago”, adding that Washington had told him: “’In your highest moments, be careful; that’s when the devil comes for you’.”
Smith has since issued an apology to the comedian. In a statement posted on Instagram, he said that he understands that jokes are part of his life as a public figure, and that “violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive.”
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On Wednesday (30 March), Rock said was “still processing” what happened during his first stand-up show since the incident. Sources close to the comedian have said he had “no idea” about Pinkett Smith’s condition.
Smith faced possible suspension, expulsion or other sanctions from the Academy, with a decision set to be made at its next board meeting on 18 April. Members include Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Laura Dern.
However, on Friday (1 April), Smith announced his resignation from the organization. Find exactly what that means for Smith’s future of him at the Oscars here.
Smith’s actions have divided opinion in Hollywood and on social media, with a number of celebrities, critics and public figures – including senators and British MPs – offering their thoughts on the incident.
Following the incident, a joke Rock made about Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars resurfaced online.
Also, in the week following the slap, footage showing both a dazed Rock and Pinkett Smith in the immediate aftermath surfaced online.
Find the full list of 2022 Oscar winners here. See the latest updates and reactions from the dramatic ceremony here, and read about the biggest talking points here.