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What Denzel Washington told Will Smith after Chris Rock Oscars slap

Will Smith's response to Chris Rock's joke about his wife Jada divided Hollywood — but Denzel Washington was firmly on the actor's side.

Will Smith and Denzel Washington

Shortly after hitting comedy movie star Chris Rock live on TV in that shocking Oscars moment, actor Will Smith won an Academy Award for Best Actor. He won the accolade for his role in the biographical drama movie King Richard, where he father of tennis prodigies Serena and Venus Williams.


When he went up to the podium to accept the award, Smith reflected on his actions and shared some advice action movie actor and fellow Oscar nominee Denzel Washington told him shortly after the incident, during which Smith hit Rock in retaliation to a joke the host made about wife Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Pinkett-Smith revealed last year that she had shaved her head as a result of alopecia, a chronic, stress-related condition that can cause hair loss in those who have it. While introducing the nominees for Best Documentary at the Oscars, Rock appeared to make a joke in reference to Pinkett-Smith’s shaven head, saying that she could star in a G.I. Joe sequel. Shortly after making the joke, Smith went up on stage and slapped Rock in the face before returning to his seat. In response to the slap, Rock said, “Will Smith just slapped the shit outta me.” Smith then shouted at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

Denzel Washington along with other actors like Tyler Perry were photographed talking to and comforting Smith following the tense moment. Then, fifteen minutes on from the live broadcast slap, Smith went up to accept the award for Best Actor in King Richard.

In his acceptance speech, Smith took a moment to apologize to the Academy for what unfolded, before sharing some advice Hollywood veteran Washington had told him.

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know, to do what we do, you’ve got to be able to take abuse,” he said. “You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you, and you’ve got to smile, you’ve got to pretend like that’s OK.”

“What I loved was, Denzel [Washington] said to me a few moments ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.'”