During an interview with Gayle King on Monday at Tribeca Festival, the billionaire multi-hyphenate explained his reaction in the moments after it happened, clarifying that he was attempting to de-escalate the situation as opposed to some media reports that said he was instead comforting Smith.
“There is a difference between comforting and de-escalating,” Perry told King according to Deadline. He later added, “I was there, close up. I left early to go and check on Chris because it was wrong, in no uncertain terms, and I made sure I said that to Will.”
He then went on to explain that the King Richard star was “devastated” and that 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 this way to winning an Oscar. It was one of the crowning moments of his career that he wanted so desperately.”
Perry then shared how being friends with both actors has made the situation “very difficult” and that he believes Smith is in a time of reflection. The Madea Goes to Jail star also stated that he could relate to Smith’s trauma, specifically alluding to a passage in the Fresh Prince’s memoir where he details an instance where he couldn’t protect his mother from his father’s abuse when he was nine years old.
“I know that feeling…. And if that trauma is not dealt with right away as you get older, it will show up in the most inappropriate and horrible times,” Perry explained. “Something happened that was extremely painful for [Smith] as well. It’s no excuse, he was completely wrong, but something triggered. That was so out of everything he is.”
As previously reported by The Root, in the aftermath of The Slap, both Perry and Denzel Washington were seen talking to Smith but neither has given specifics as to what all was said until now. Back in April, The Tragedy of Macbeth star revealed that he and Perry did pray for Smith with Washington explaining: “I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation but I know the only solution was prayer. The way I saw it.”