Taraji P. Henson told People on Sunday night that her comments to Seacrest 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 said. She added that she “absolutely” supports Seacrest.
The red carpet has been a charged stage in 2018, beginning with the demonstrations orchestrated by Time’s Up at January’s Golden Globes—and the 90th Academy Awards were no exception.
There was much debate leading up to the event around E!’s decision to maintain Ryan Seacrest as a red carpet interviewer despite recent allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by his former stylist. (Seacrest has denied the allegations.) Seacrest’s interviews were mostly uneventful until he stood before Taraji P. Henson, who was there Sunday night to present the performance of Mary J. Blige’s Oscar-nominated original song for Mudbound.
When asking Henson about Blige, the Empire actor responded, “You know what, the universe has a way of taking care of good people. You know what I mean?” She then flashed him a mischievous smile. “I agree,” he responded.
A number of viewers took to Twitter to suggest that Henson’s remark was not just in reference to Blige, but a way of subtly calling out Seacrest to his face.
— Michael B. Binge-watching (@michaelcollado) March 5, 2018
Holy shit Taraji just put a curse on Ryan Seacrest ? pic.twitter.com/GSknn3NozF
— Sara Jean Hughes (@sarajeanhughes) March 5, 2018
Watching that clip of Taraji P. Henson talking to Ryan Seacrest pic.twitter.com/RVm7DkUZP2
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) March 5, 2018
I literally just gasped out loud at Taraji bopping Seacrest on the chin while shading his character.
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) March 5, 2018
Over on ABC, right after Henson’s interview with Seacrest, interviewer Wendi McClendon-Covey asked her how she was doing and she responded, “I’m great now that I’m in your company.”
"I'm great now that I'm in your company." –Taraji P. Henson to the interviewer who talked to her right after Ryan Seacrest
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) March 5, 2018