Twitter immediately reacted to the actress’s red carpet interview with Seacrest at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, amid an allegation of sexual misconduct against the television host.
“The universe has a way of taking care of taking care of good people,” she said, as she touched the E! host on the chin. “You know what I mean?”
The Twitterverse quickly assumed she was throwing shade at Seacrest, and the theory was bolstered after Henson told ABC’s Wendi Mclendon-Covey, “I’m great now that I’m in your company.”
However, Henson tells PEOPLE her comments were “misconstrued.”
“I did it to keep his chin up. It’s an awkward position to be in. He’s been cleared but anyone can say anything,” she says.
When asked point-blank whether she was supporting the E! host, Henson replied “absolutely.”
Later, Seacrest addressed the situation on Twitter, writing that he had “nothing but love for his friend” Henson, and thanked her for “hanging out with us on the E! Red Carpet.”
Before the clarifications, many social media users surmised that she was dissing Seacrest.
Taraji P. Henson telling Ryan Seacrest about himself…omg,” wrote one Twitter user.
“I heard you loud and clear!!” wrote another.
However, others interpreted the moment the way she intended — as a gesture of support.
Another user pointed out that the two hugged at the end of the interview.
Last week, Seacrest again denied stylist Suzy Hardy’s allegations, published in depth in an interview with Variety Monday. She claimed the TV host, now 43, sexually assaulted her multiple times over the six years that she was employed by the network from 2007-13, including grabbing her crotch multiple times.
He initially released a rebuttal in November when the accusations first surfaced. An E! investigation into the claims concluded on Feb. 1 that there was “insufficient evidence to support the claims.” Last week, he accused Hardy of attempting to blackmail him.
In the wake of the detailed Variety interview, there has been a question about whether or not celebrities will stop to speak with Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet to continue showing support for the Time’s Up initiative. However, E! confirmed that business will continue as usual, and he indeed kicked off the network’s red carpet show Sunday night.
The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.