Tyler Perry is breaking his silence on the now-infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock that took place at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.
Perry was one of the actors seen rallying around Smith in the chaotic moments following the slap, alongside Denzel Washington, whom Smith called out for his wise words during his acceptance speech for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Film.
While speaking candidly with Gayle King during a Tribeca Film Festival panel, People reports that Perry made it clear that he was not comforting Smith in the moment, but rather doing what he could to calm spirits down and establish peace.
“There’s a difference between comforting and deescalating, that’s No. 1. And I left early to get to Chris to make sure he was okay,” Perry said. “Being friends with both of them has been very difficult.”
“Trust me, as painful as it was for all of us in the room, it was as painful for Chris, who was a pure champion for the way he handled it. But I want you to understand that something happened that was extremely painful for [Will] as well,” he added. “That is no excuse. He was completely wrong for what he did. But something triggered him — that is so out of everything he is.”
Perry says the impact of the moment was not lost on Smith, who seemed just as shocked by his actions as everyone else in the room was.
“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,” Perry continued. “I’m looking at this man in his eyes going, ‘What are you doing? This is your night.’”