Amidst the chaos that ensued at the Oscars on Sunday night—after-you-know-who abruptly took the stage to you-know-what you-know-whom straight in the face—one of the most calming presences in the Dolby Theater appears to have been Denzel Washington. The veteran actor was one of a few A-listers who joined ostensible Best Actor rival Will Smith in the aftermath of his altercation with comedian Chris Rock; his influence was soothing enough that Smith thanked him during his tearful acceptance speech a few minutes later, saying that Washington had told him, “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
Now Washington has gone into a bit more detail about the devil and what went down that night, talking with pastor T.D. Jakes at Jakes’ Leadership Summit this weekend, and revealing that he, Smith, and Tyler Perry had prayed together during the stop-down after the slap. Describing the evening, Washington told Jakes, “There’s a saying: When the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong. The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him at home.’ My favorite. Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because you’re trying to do something, right. And for whatever reason, the devil got ahold of the circumstance that night.”
Washington declined to say what, exactly, the three men prayed 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 the situation, but I know the only solution was prayer.” (Also: A meaningful, shoulder-touching conversation with Bradley Cooper, who was also one of a handful of people who talked to Smith immediately after the slap.)
Fallout from the incident continues to develop; Smith resigned from The Academy last night, meaning he’ll no longer be eligible for Oscars voting going forward. (He also almost certainly won’t be asked back for the traditional job of handing out the Best Actress award next year.) While accepting his resignation, Academy president Dave Rubin noted that Smith will still be subject to disciplinary proceedings from the body later this month.