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One of Hollywood’s most esteemed actors, Denzel Washington, opened up publicly about the infamous incident at the Academy Awards involving Will Smith and Chris Rock.

The Tragedy of Macbeth star was a guest panelist at the International Leadership Summit on Saturday (April 2nd), which took place in Charlotte, N.C., and was organized by Bishop T.D. Jakes. During the two-hour conversation with the church leader about his faith and his career, Washington was asked about the incident where Smith slapped the Oscars host in the face after he made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“There’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” Washington told Jakes. “The devil goes, ‘Oh no leave him alone, he’s my favorite.’ 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 ahold of him that night.” Jakes asked why Washington reached out to Smith in the wake of that moment. “No way I could have sat in my seat,” the actor responded. “That’s just not who I am.”

The 67-year old thespian confirmed that he got up to speak to Smith after the incident, along with the director and actor Tyler Perry, and actor Bradley Cooper.

“Fortunately, there were people there, not just me, but others in the gap,” Washington continued. “Tyler Perry came right immediately, right over there with me.” He wouldn’t speak on what they said or prayed about with Smith, but felt that prayer was the best course of action. “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.”, he said.

Smith alluded to the interaction with Washington in his acceptance speech for winning Best Actor for his role in King Richard. It has been a turbulent week for the entertainer since the altercation, which was capped off by his resignation from the Academy on Friday amid rumblings of projects that he’s been attached to being put on halt.

Photo: Getty