Tyler Perry says Will Smith was ‘devastated’ following Oscar slap

The movie mogul spoke with Gayle King at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival about the aftermath of Smith slapping Chris Rock during this year's Academy Awards ceremony

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Tyler Perry recalled Will Smith’s state of mind immediately following the infamous slapping incident at the 94th Academy Awards in a chat with Gayle King. Smith was “devastated” after it happened, the movie mogul said.

Perry spoke with King on Monday at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival’s Directors Series conversation in New York. During the discussion, King referenced Perry along with actors Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper — being seen approaching Smith during a commercial break following the altercation, assuming he was “comforting” his friend.

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“There’s a difference between comforting and deescalating, that’s No. 1,” Perry clarified. “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 continued, “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. That is no excuse. He was completely wrong for what he did. But something triggered him — that is so out of everything he is.”

Although Perry felt that Smith was in the wrong for his actions, he stated that Smith expressed regret almost immediately.

Tyler Perry thegrio.com
Tyler Perry attends the premiere of Tyler Perry’s “A Fall From Grace” at Metrograph on January 13, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“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 said. “I’m looking at this man in his eyes going, ‘What are you doing? This is your night.’ 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 …”

Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comic made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s, very low haircut. Smith walked onto the stage, attacked Rock, walked back to his seat, and yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your f——g mouth!”

Smith would win the Best Actor Oscar later that evening and apologized to the Academy for his actions. He would pen a formal apology to Rock in an Instagram post the following day. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”

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