Tyler Perry has explained what he said to Will Smith immediately following the latter’s on-stage altercation with Chris Rock at the Academy Awards ceremony in March.
Actor and producer Perry was seen with Smith during the first break in the broadcast after the King Richard star reacted to a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia by slapping Rock.
Speaking in a conversation with Gayle King as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Directors Series on Monday (June 13), Perry explained that the articles saying he was “comforting” Smith didn’t tell the whole story.
“There’s a difference between comforting and de-escalating,” People reports Perry as saying at the New York event. “And I left early to get to Chris to make sure he was OK. Being friends with both of them has been very difficult.”
Perry also says he labelled Smith’s behaviour as “wrong in no uncertain terms,” and that he “made sure” Smith was aware.
“And I’ll tell you, when we walked over to him, he was devastated. He couldn’t believe what happened. He couldn’t believe he did it.’ I’m looking at this man in his eyes going, ‘What are you doing? This is your night,'” the Gone Girl actor recalled.
“And to get all the way to this moment, winning an Oscar, that was one of the crowning moments of his career that he wanted so desperately, and to have something like that happen.”
Perry went on to call Rock “a pure champion for the way he handled it”, adding: “But I want you to understand that something happened that was extremely painful for [Smith] as well. That is no excuse. He was completely wrong for what he did. But something triggered him – that is so out of everything he is.”
Pinkett-Smith opened up about the controversy earlier this month (June 1), stating her hope that the pair would “talk it out” to resolve the conflict.