Famed Director Was Seated Near the Slap: His View

Pedro Almodovar blasts Will Smith for talking like a 'cult leader' in his acceptance speech
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2022 4:50 PM CDT
Famed Director Was Seated Near the Slap: His View
Rossy de Palma, left, and Pedro Almodovar pose for photographers ahead of the Saint Laurent Ready To Wear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 fashion collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Paris, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.   (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Director Pedro Almodovar attended the Academy Awards this year and wrote an Oscar-night diary for IndieWire. It would be interesting reading for movie fans in any year as he talks about his run-ins with celebs including Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, and Al Pacino, and carps about the cold temperature in the venue. Oh, but this was the year of The Slap, and Almodovar was seated less than 15 feet away from Will and Jada Smith. (He was there with Penelope Cruz, who was up for best actress in his film Parallel Mothers.) Almodovar avoids a real-time account of "the violent episode that is the only thing talked about the next day." But he circles back to it as he discusses Smith's subsequent acceptance speech for best actor, one the director listened to with disdain:

  • "What I saw and heard produced a feeling of absolute rejection in me," he writes. "Not only during the episode, but afterward, too, in the acceptance speech—a speech that seemed more like that of a cult leader. You don’t defend or protect the family with your fists, and no, the devil doesn’t take advantage of key moments to do his work."
  • As the Guardian notes, the "devil" reference is to when Smith recounted that Denzel Washington warned him that "at your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you." The director wasn't buying it. "The devil, in fact, doesn’t exist," he writes. "This was a fundamentalist speech that we should neither hear nor see. Some claim that it was the only real moment in the ceremony, but they are talking about the faceless monster that is the social media. For them, avid for carrion, it undoubtedly was the great event of the night."
Read the full diary. (Read more Will Smith stories.)

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