Tyler Perry sets record straight on Oscars slap

September 26, 2019 Atlanta - Portrait of Tyler Perry in Tyler Perry Studios on Thursday, September 26, 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Months have passed since the infamous Oscars slap incident but it continues to be a hot topic.

While there are echoes and echoes of “move on!” from social media users all over, it doesn’t seem like we can quite escape the Oscars incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock. Tyler Perry recently spoke with Gayle King about a wide range of topics during a Tribeca Festival conversation and the Oscars slap came up during their discussion. King asked if “Will Smith would keep his namesake soundstage at Tyler Perry Studios” (if you’re unfamiliar, the stages at Tyler Perry Studios are all named after people Perry admires.) While it did seem Perry was hesitant to even go into the subject, he did want to clarify something.

If you don’t remember the slap heard around the world, here’s a brief refresher: after Rock made a joke (that the Smiths and others felt were in poor taste) while presenting an award, Will Smith walked on stage and smacked Chris Rock. Moments after the smack, Perry, along with Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington were seen going up to Smith in the audience. Many thought the actors were comforting Smith and were wondering why Rock didn’t get the same treatment. Perry is now speaking out and clarifying that wasn’t necessarily the case. “There’s a difference between comforting and de-escalating, that’s number one,” Perry said. “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 went on to touch on how the incident affected both Rock and Smith. “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.”

It’s safe to say, at this point, Smith and Rock probably need to have a conversation and put this whole thing to bed once and for all.

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