Tyler Perry says being friend with both Will Smith and Chris Rock has been difficult since the 'slap' incident at the Oscars in March (Smith infamously smacked Rock at the 94th Academy Awards).
During a Tribeca Film Festival Q&A on Monday with Gayle King, the director explained, "There's a difference between comforting and deescalating, that's number one. 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 detail what happened in the moments following the attack and how he attempted to console both his friends.
He said, "I was there, close up. I left early to go check on Chris because it was wrong in no uncertain terms, and I made sure I said that to Will. 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. And 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, I think he is very much in reflection of trying to figure out what happened."
Perry was diplomatic, empathizing with both Smith and Rock, while acknowledging that Smith was still in the wrong.
Perry said, "… 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."
The debacle at March's award show unraveled after Rock made light of Jada Pinkett Smith's hair loss (Pinkett Smith has been open about living with alopecia).
Will has since apologized to Rock and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which banned him from the awards show for 10 years. He can still be nominated and win one of the coveted awards.