Pedro Almodóvar — the filmmaker behind the Penélope Cruz vehicle “Parallel Mothers” — likened Will Smith’s Oscar acceptance speech to that of a “cult leader” in a new essay penned to IndieWire about his experience of the ceremony.
Alongside sharing details of meeting Zendaya and Al Pacino, Almodóvar wrote that he felt “absolute rejection” at seeing Smith slap Chris Rock onstage. The “King Richard” star hit the comedian following a joke he made at wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense. “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth,” he said.
“I was very close to the protagonists,” he wrote in the English-translated essay. “What I saw and heard produced a feeling of absolute rejection in me. 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,” the director added, referencing Smith’s words, where the actor said Denzel Washington had warned him that “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the Devil comes for you.”
Almodóvar continued, “The devil, in fact, doesn’t exist. 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.”
Almodóvar is one of many attendees who have since spoken out against Smith following Slapgate, including hosts Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer, as well as Zoë Kravitz. Others, like Tiffany Haddish, defended the Oscar winner’s action.
Since then, the Academy announced that it has moved forward with disciplinary hearings and is yet to determine whether suspension, expulsion or other sanctions should be levied on Smith.