Following the shocking altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards — in which Smith slapped Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith — Denzel Washington rushed over to console Smith and talk him down. Here’s more on their Oscars moment, and what Washington thinks about Smith’s career.
In his tearful speech for Best Actor following his row with Rock, Smith revealed that “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful; that's when the devil comes for you.’” Washington was visibly emotional, as he was also nominated for Best Actor, making him Smith’s friend, confidant, and competitor.
In an Oscars pre-show interview, Washington also supported Smith, saying, “Will is already a winner. He's probably the biggest star in the last 30 years. More box office, as many nominations and/or awards as anyone. He's just huge, and it's his turn.” Washington jokingly added, “I'm rooting for me, but it's his turn.”
Washington’s own Best Actor win in 2002 marked only the second time a Black man had won the award, with the first being Sidney Poitier in 1964. Washington has been nominated for 10 Oscars in total, and he and Smith shared Best Actor nominations in 2002, so regardless of Smith’s actions, his victory at last must have meant a lot to Washington.