Tyler Perry Says Being Friends With Both Will Smith and Chris Rock Has Been 'Very Difficult'

The filmmaker spoke to Will Smith moments after he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Tyler Perry is making it clear that he didn’t comfort Will Smith after the actor slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards.

As part of the Directors Series With Gayle King during the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, the 52-year-old film mogul spoke candidly about witnessing Smith slapping Rock, and him chatting with the actor just after the shocking incident.

“I was there close up, I left early to go and check on Chris because it was wrong in no uncertain terms,” Perry said about the aftermath. “I made sure I said that to Will, and when we walked over to him, he was devastated. He couldn’t believe what happened.” 

Perry noted that when he approached Smith, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor, he was out of sorts. 

“I think he is very much in reflection of trying to figure out what happened,” he shared. 

Tyler Perry chats with Will Smith after he slaps Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. - ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Perry and Bradley Cooper were both photographed talking to Smith in the moments following the incident. When asked if he was using that time to comfort Smith, Perry shared that it wasn’t the time for that. 

“There’s a difference between comforting and deescalating,” Perry explained. “Being friends with both of them, it’s been very difficult.” 

During the Oscars ceremony, 53-year-old Smith rushed the stage and slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith's, shaved hair. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia. 

While talking with King, Perry referenced a moment from Smith’s memoir, Will, where he talks about being unable to defend his mother through her abuse, and how that trauma played out in the wrong moment.

“I know that feeling, I’m getting chills thinking about it,” he 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.” 

Perry’s comments come weeks after Pinkett Smith spoke out in detail about Oscars night, and shared her hopes for Smith and Rock to “reconcile.”  

"My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile," she said during the cold open of the Red Talk Talk’s episode about living with alopecia. "The state of the world today, we need them both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that's keep figuring this thing called life together."  

In the months following the incident, Smith -- who issued a public apology to Rock -- has been banned from any Oscars events and ceremonies for 10 years. Rock has returned to doing stand-up, and even joked about the incident