In an interview with Gayle King as part of Tribeca Film Festival’s Directors Series Monday night, Tyler Perry shed light on Will Smith‘s infamous Oscar night slap of presenter Chris Rock.
Perry was seen by Smith’s side after the assault and foul-mouthed lambasting of Rock, who’d made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. He denied he was “comforting” Smith during a commercial break.
“There’s a difference between comforting and deescalating, that’s No. 1,” Perry explained, according to People. “And I left early to get to Chris to make sure he was okay.”
“Trust me, as painful as it was for all of us in the room, it was as painful for Chris,” Perry expressed, calling Rock “a pure champion for the way he handled it.”
He noted, “…something happened that was extremely painful for [Will] as well.”
Perry added, “That is no excuse. He was completely wrong for what he did. But something triggered him….”
“And I’ll tell you, when we walked over to him, he was devastated. 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,'” Perry recalled, explaining the incident sullied, “one of the crowning moments of his career…”
“I just read his book,” the actor continued of Smith, “and there’s this moment about not being able to protect his mother [as a child]…And if that trauma is not dealt with right away, as you get older it will show up in the most inappropriate, most horrible time. I know Will. I know him well.”
The filmmaker noted Smith is “very much in reflection” about the incident, for which the King Richard star apologized, and which got him banned from Motion Picture Academy events for 10 years.
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