Nearly three months after the infamous slap heard around the world, Tyler Perry is addressing the moments just after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. The multi-hyphenate film mogul was seen speaking with Smith during the commercial break after the actor stormed the stage in retaliation to a joke made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. During a sit-down with Gayle King at the Tribeca Film Festival, Perry clarified that when he approached Smith after the incident, his intention was to de-escalate the situation rather than comfort him.
“There’s a difference between comforting and de-escalating,” Perry told King. “Being friends with both of them, it’s been very difficult.”
He added: “I was there close up. I left early to go and check on Chris because it was wrong in no uncertain terms. I made sure I said that to Will, and when we walked over to him, he was devastated. He couldn’t believe what happened.”
While he disagreed with how the moment was handled, Perry said he did understand his friend’s instinct to defend Pinkett Smith based on a moment in Smith’s memoir Will, in which the actor recalled being unable to protect his mother as a young boy.
“I know that feeling, I’m getting chills thinking about it,” Perry explained. “I know that feeling of being a man and thinking about the little boy. If that trauma is not dealt with right away as you get older, it will show up in the most inappropriate, most horrible time.”
As if there was an unofficial embargo lifted on speaking about the Oscars, Perry is the latest to open up about the slap in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Pinkett Smith spoke about the incident for the first time on her Red Table Talk series.
“Now about Oscar night, my deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile,” she said at the top of the show. “The state of the world today, we need them both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s to keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening.”
Rock has yet to officially address the incident.