Tyler Perry Admits Being Friends with Both Will Smith and Chris Rock 'Has Been Very Difficult'

"I think he is very much in reflection," Tyler Perry said of his pal Will Smith, after the King Richard actor smacked Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards

Chris Rock attends the FX Networks' Star Walk Winter Press Tour 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 09, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage); Tyler Perry attends the premiere of Tyler Perry's "A Fall From Grace" at Metrograph on January 13, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage); Will Smith attends 'Bad Boys For Life' photocall at the Villamagna Hotel on January 08, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage; Carlos Alvarez/Getty

Tyler Perry has had to navigate a delicate dynamic in wake of the Will Smith and Chris Rock incident at the Oscars in March.

During a Tribeca Film Festival Q&A on Monday with Gayle King, the Academy Award honoree, 52, opened up about the "very difficult" experience of being friends with both actors after Smith, 53, infamously smacked Rock, 57, at the 94th Academy Awards.

"There's a difference between comforting and deescalating, that's number one," Perry said, recounting: "And I left early to get to Chris to make sure he was okay. Being friends with both of them has been very difficult."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Tyler Perry attends the Directors Series with Gayle King during the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studios on June 13, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Santiago Felipe/Getty

Perry went on to detail what happened in the moments following the attack and how he attempted to console both his friends.

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"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," he said. "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 continued.

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He remained diplomatic, empathizing with both Smith and Rock, while acknowledging that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum was still in the wrong.

"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."

US actor Denzel Washington (L), US actor Will Smith (C) and US actor-producer Tyler Perry chat during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty

The debacle at March's award show unraveled after Rock made light of Jada Pinkett Smith's hair loss (Pinkett Smith, 50, has been open about living with alopecia). "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see ya," he joked.

Will then walked onto the stage and slapped Rock in the face, leaving the audience and live viewers around the world stunned. "Oh wow," said Rock as Smith made his way back to his seat. "Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me."

RELATED VIDEO: How Will Smith Smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars — and the Aftermath — Unfolded

"Keep my wife's name out your f—ing mouth!" Smith yelled up to the stage after taking his seat. The King Richard star went on to win best actor later in the night.

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.

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