Monday, July 4, 2022

Will Smith Praises ‘Mentor’ Denzel Washington After SAG Win for ‘King Richard’

Denzel and WIll Smith
Denzel Washington and Will Smith (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

*Will Smith took home the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for his part in “King Richard” at the 28th Annual Screen Actor Guild Awards on Sunday.

After his win, the actor made time to appreciate his close relationship with “mentor” Denzel Washington.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together. So we’ve been talking, he’s always been a mentor for me and he grabbed me and he said, ‘This is your year,’ ” Smith told PEOPLE (the TV Show!) host Kay Adams after he won his award.

“He just hugged me and he said, ‘I’m so happy for you. Just love who you’re becoming,’ ” he said. 

Continued Smith: “He knew me years ago, I would go to Denzel for advice so he’s seen me through the years and he was just telling me how proud he is of who I’ve become and what I’ve become. He was saying that he felt like a weight was lifted off of his shoulders somehow.”

READ MORE: NAACP Image Awards 2022: Jennifer Hudson, Will Smith Top Winners | WATCH

The 28th Annual SAG Awards broadcast live on TNT and TBS Sunday, Feb. 27. During his acceptance speech at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, Smith cried while calling his “King Richard” win “one of the greatest moments” of his career. 

The biopic unpacks the real-life legacy of Richard Williams, who is the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

“Richard Williams is a dreamer like no one you’ve ever known,” said Smith, as reported by PEOPLE. “He has a power of belief that borders on insanity and sometimes tips over the border, which is absolutely necessary to take something from impossible to possible.”

Smith then praised his “King Richard” castmates, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton.

“You guys are actors, so you know how sometimes your onscreen characters kind of bleed into real life,” he said. “To walk you around this room tonight, to parent you on this film, to deliver you into this business has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.”

Smith also showed some love to the Williams family. 

“Venus, Serena, the Williams family, you entrusted me and our group with your story. You didn’t agree to put your name on it until you saw the final project. I get that, I get that. That’s cool. That’s real because we be messing stuff up sometimes,” he joked.

“But when I got the call and you watched the movie and you said you loved it, I just want to say thank you very much,” he concluded. “It was my deepest pleasure to honor your family and to tell your story to the world. Thank you all.”

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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