Tyler Perry, who was seen speaking with Will Smith moments after his infamous onstage meltdown, said the actor was “devastated” after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.
According to Variety, Perry, who is friends with both Smith and Rock, spoke publicly for the first time about the slap heard around the world during a storyteller conversation with Gayle King at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday.
“I left early to go and check on Chris because it was wrong in no uncertain terms,” Perry said. “I made sure I said that to Will, and when we walked over to him, he was devastated. He couldn’t believe what happened.”
At the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles in March, Perry said he tried his best to “de-escalate” the situation. He believes Smith is still pondering his actions. “I think he is very much in reflection of trying to figure out what happened,” Perry said.
#TylerPerry spoke about the incident between #ChrisRock and #WillSmith #Oscars. Like @willsmith he was an abused kid. If the trauma is not healed right away, it’s gonna show up at the most, horrible time»…« It was painful for everybody int the room» #Tribeca2022 @tylerperry pic.twitter.com/CHSdTFDOnP
— Sandra Muller (@LettreAudio) June 13, 2022
Tyler Perry relates to the trauma that might’ve triggered Smith
He also speculated that Smith’s rash decision to punch Rock after the 57-year-old comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith‘s hair stemmed from childhood trauma.
According to Variety, Perry cited a passage in Smith’s memoir “Will,” in which the actor described a time when he was an 8-year-old child unable to protect his mother.
“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.”
Pinkett Smith has alopecia and has shaved her head to prevent hair loss. Smith slapped Rock after he compared her to Demi Moore‘s bald character “G.I. Jane.”
Perry admitted that being close to both Smith and Rock has been difficult, and he made it clear that he did not try to console Smith after the incident.
Smith has publicly apologized to Rock and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, effectively disqualifying him from voting on future Oscars.
Because of the assault, the actor, who won an Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” in 2022, was barred from all Oscar-related events for ten years in April.