Despite two different moments of apparent shade at the Oscars, Taraji P. Henson “absolutely” supports Ryan Seacrest.
The Empire star caused a social media stir when she was interviewed by Seacrest on the Academy Award’s red carpet for E! on Sunday.
While the pair were chatting, fans thought Henson threw a subtle jab at the host’s allegations of sexual misconduct, which were detailed by Variety last week.
“The universe has a way of taking care of good people,” she said as she touched Seacrest on the chin and smirked. “You know what I mean?”
Holy shit Taraji just put a curse on Ryan Seacrest 😂 pic.twitter.com/GSknn3NozF— Sara Jean Hughes (@sarajeanhughes) March 5, 2018
Twitter quickly assumed she was shading the host, and moments later when she was interviewed on ABC’s pre-show, the theory was fueled as she told Wendi Mclendon-Covey, “I’m great now that I’m in your company.”
Despite the evidence, Henson promised her comments were “misconstrued.”
“I did it to keep his chin up. It’s an awkward position to be in. He’s been cleared by anyone can say anything,” Henson told PEOPLE after the cringe-worthy encounter.
When asked point-blank whether she supported the American Idol host, she said “absolutely.”
Seacrest also addressed the tweet storm over the weird moment, writing on Twitter that he had “nothing but love for his friend” Henson. He also thanked her for “hanging out with us on the E! Red Carpet,” which is something many A-listers chose to avoid this year.
The 43-year-old was accused in November of ongoing sexual misconduct by his former style Suzie Hardy.
Hardy, who worked as Seacrest’s personal stylist from 2007 to 2013, detailed the ongoing misconduct she said she suffered at Seacrest’s hands in a letter sent to Seacrest, E! and its parent company NBC Universal. She also spoke to Variety last week about the alleged abuse, during which she claims Seacrest grabbed her crotch, hugged her while wearing only underwear and threw her on a bed before rubbing his erection on her.
Hardy also said that after Human Resources approached her about whether she was engaged in a relationship with Seacrest, she reported the allegations and was subsequently fired a short time later.
“As proud as I am and as strong as a woman as I am, as smart as I am and as much work as I’ve done with therapists, it really affected me,” Hardy said of the alleged abuse she endured at Seacrest's hands.
Despite the disturbing claims, E! said on Feb. 1 it conducted a three-month independent investigation into the matter and cleared Seacrest of wrongdoing. After Hardy’s story went live on Variety last week, Seacrest’s attorney claimed that Hardy was attempting to blackmail him for $15 million.1comments
Following the published interview, some questioned whether or not celebrities would stop to speak with Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet, especially after the Time’s Up initiative gained traction at the Golden Globes earlier in the year. However, E! confirmed Seacrest was still serving as its on-site host earlier in the week and, while he got off to a slow start and had a surprise visit by Live! co-host Kelly Ripa, business continued as usual for him and the network.