'The only solution was prayer' - Denzel Washington responds to Will Smith's Chris Rock slap

Will Smith shocked viewers when he slapped Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars ceremony.(Photo: ITV News)

Denzel Washington has opened up about the advice he gave to Will Smith after he slapped comedian Chris Rock in the middle of the Oscars.

Smith stunned audiences in the auditorium and at home when he slapped Rock after he pulled a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. 

In his acceptance speech for Best Actor, a tearful Smith said that in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Washington had come up to him and warned him about the attacks of the devil. 

"Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, at your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you," Smith recalled.

The advice drew applause from the audience. 

Washington explained further about the advice he gave while speaking to Deadline.

"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'," he said.

"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 the two prayed together after the incident, and that in his view, this was the only real solution. 

"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."

Smith has since apologized to Rock and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Academy's Board of Governors has initiated "disciplinary proceedings" and is to make a decision in the coming weeks.