“I could see [Kelly] getting more heated. He was upset with me about some of the questions, that’s okay. He was a little irritated, that’s okay,” King told Colbert.
“When I see Robert getting really upset and he stands out of his seat, my initial reaction is ‘Oh god, please don’t leave, please don’t leave, please don’t leave,’ because I really thought we’ve seen him storm out of interviews before, so I thought he was gonna do that. And I’m thinking, ‘I’m not done with my questions, what can I do to save this interview?'”
King decided – rather than telling Kelly to calm down, which could further enrage him – to remain seated “quietly and looking at him” until Kelly’s outburst ended.
“I never thought that he was gonna hurt me or hit me, I never, ever thought that,” King said. “What I was worried about was that he was flailing and hitting his fists so violently, I was worried he would accidentally hit me, but I never thought that he wanted to hurt me in any way.”
King added of the now-famous photo of her sitting calmly while Kelly stood and yelled, “The picture was taken by my makeup guy, as you see is a really good photographer. I didn’t even know he was in the room taking pictures.”
In the second part of King’s Late Show interview, the CBS This Morning co-host discussed her interview with Kelly’s girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage. While King was supposed to talk the girls without Kelly in the room, the singer snuck back in and loomed over the interview.
“We don’t know how the R. Kelly story is going to end, we really don’t, but what I do know that those girls are going to need their family,” King said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The Late Show also shared a clip from Friday night’s The Gayle King Interview With R. Kelly, an hour-long primetime special featuring previously unseen portions of King’s 80-minute conversation with Kelly.