Tyler Perry Clarifies He Was “De-escalating” the Situation Not “Comforting” Will Smith After Oscars Slap

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While speaking with Gayle King for a Tribeca Festival chat in New York City on Monday, Tyler Perry clarified something when the topic of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars came up.

During the wide-ranging conversation, the prolific producer was asked if Will Smith would keep his namesake soundstage at Tyler Perry Studios, as the 12 stages are named after someone Perry admires. The question sparked a notable hesitancy to discuss the now-infamous moment.

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“If I talk about it, then it becomes overshadowing of everything else we talked about. That will be the headline for sure,” he said.

But he did want to clarify reports that he “comforted” Smith after the onstage attack. Perry, along with Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper, were all seen approaching Smith in the audience after the moment and looked to be consoling the King Richard star, who would go on to claim the night’s best actor trophy.

“There’s a difference between comforting and de-escalating, that’s number one,” Perry told King. “And I left early to get to Chris to make sure he was okay. Being friends with both of them has been very difficult.”

Perry said he left the show early to check on Rock, “because [the slap] was wrong in no uncertain terms, and I made sure I said that to Will.”

When Perry approached Smith, he said the actor was “devastated” and “couldn’t believe what happened.”

“He couldn’t believe he did it,” Perry recalled of Smith. “And I’m looking at this man in his eyes going, ‘What are you doing? This is your night.'”

He continued, “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, I think he is very much in reflection of trying to figure out what happened.”

Perry told King that he thinks Rock making a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, having a shaved head “triggered” something inside Smith to act so out of character.

“And 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,” Perry said. “But I want you to understand that something happened that was extremely painful for [Will] 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.”

Smith, who has since apologized for slapping Rock, has been banned from attending the Oscars or any Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event for 10 years. On a recent episode of her Red Table Talk series, Jada Pinkett Smith said of her husband and Rock, “My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile.”

Rock, meanwhile, has been briefly joking about the incident when taking the comedy stage, and has lined up a London stand-up show with co-headliner Dave Chappelle, who was also recently attacked onstage during stand-up comedy set.

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