Tyler Perry is speaking publicly for the first time about the moments following Will Smith's infamous slap at the Oscars earlier this year.
Smith hit Chris Rock after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. Pinkett Smith has long been open about her hair loss due to alopecia. At the time, Rock declined to file charges and the next day Smith apologized to Rock in an Instagram post. On April 8, the Academy's board of governors banned the “King Richard” star from attending the Academy Awards — and any academy-related events and programs — for the next 10 years.
Almost immediately following the incident, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry could be seen next to the stage speaking with Smith.
During a Tribeca Film Festival event this week, Perry opened up about the moments after the slap, saying he was "de-escalating" the situation with Smith.
“I was there close up, I left early to go and check on Chris because it was wrong in no uncertain terms,” Perry said, according to Variety. “I made sure I said that to Will, and when we walked over to him, he was devastated. He couldn’t believe what happened.”
“I think he is very much in reflection of trying to figure out what happened," he said.
Perry said he had empathy for Smith after reading the actor's memoir, "Will", where he described not being able to protect his mother from his father's alleged abuse when he was a child.
“I know that feeling, I’m getting chills thinking about it,” Perry said. “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.”
He clarified to host Gayle King that he had not been comforting Smith in the moments following the incident, however.
“There’s a difference between comforting and de-escalating,” Perry said.
Washington has also publicly talked about speaking with Smith after the incident. At pastor and author T.D. Jakes’s leadership summit in April, he said that “the devil got ahold of [Smith] that night,” according to Variety.
“Fortunately, there were people there. Not just me, but others — Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me,” Washington said, adding they had all prayed together.
“I don’t wanna say what we talked about, 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, the way I see it,” he said.
In his chat this week with King, Perry said he was still stuck in the middle of the two actors' feud.
“Being friends with both of them, it’s been very difficult," he said.
In a recent episode of "Red Table Talk," Pinkett Smith also said she hoped the two men could reconcile.
“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.
“The state of the world today, we need them both, and we all actually need one another more than ever,” she continued. “Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening.”