Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Will Smith Talks Making ‘King Richard’ Biopic with Venus and Serena Williams

*Will Smith’s eagerly anticipated film “King Richard” finds the superstar portraying Richard Williams, father of legendary athletes Venus and Serena Williams.

Based on the true story that will inspire the world, “King Richard” follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever. Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons. “King Richard” is a profoundly moving film that shows the power of family, perseverance and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world.

King Richard highlights one father’s relentless drive and unapologetic vision to change the game. Determined to do things his way, Richard Williams made a plan and defied the odds by raising not one, but two of the greatest athletes of all time: Venus and Serena Williams (who executive produced the film alongside their sister Isha Price).

READ MORE: Will Smith’s ‘King Richard’ Biopic to Open 2021 American Black Film Festival

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the project, Smith said the Williams patriarch “reminds me a lot of my father. It was that same generation — men that used to fix everything with their hands. I understood what it was like to live at the edge of survival and to try to sustain a dream.” Adds Serena, “There are so many ways to tell this story. But I think telling it through my dad was the best way because he had the idea. He knew how to do it.”

Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Will Smith appear on EW’s December 2021 cover, and they dish about the upcoming film with the publication. 

Smith, who also serves as one of the film’s producers, stars in the pic alongside Aunjanue Ellis as the girls’ mom, Oracene Wlliams, Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, with Tony Goldwyn and Jon Bernthal as coaches Paul Cohen and Rick Macci. 

“I got eight weeks of prep at the start, which I never have on any project,” Director Reinaldo Marcus Green tells EW. “And that’s part of Will’s process. He’d put up index cards of every single scene in the movie that were color-coded based on [tone]. He comes from an era where you respect the director. And this was him 100 percent in on something he truly believed in — getting the dialect down and having the look down and the behavior.”

 “I don’t make movies for awards or anything like that,” Smith says. “I make movies to honor people and to talk about ideas that I think can be helpful to other humans.”

“King Richard” will be released in U.S. theaters and stream exclusively on HBO Max, November 19. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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