Will Smith Says Venus & Serena Williams Helped Make ‘King Richard’ Authentic
Will Smith hit the “King Richard” red carpet at AFI Fest with wife Jada and their kids Willow and Jaden — and he was showing off his 20-lb. weight loss!
Smith spoke with “Extra’s” Special Correspondent Julissa Bermúdez about playing Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams.
The premiere was a long time in the making, as the movie was set to be released last year. Smith explained, “Six weeks into shooting, COVID hit. And then we had to shut down for four months and then try to pick it back up.” Smiling, he added, “It gave… everybody a lot more time to get to know one another and it gave everybody a lot more time to let their characters marinate, so when we started back up, we were lathered up.”
“King Richard” is told from the patriarch’s perspective, and Julissa asked what people will learn about the family.
Will replied, “I think what was most interesting for me is that it was a family decision that Venus and Serena were going to train to be the number one and number two tennis players in the world. They wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t full family agreement. It wasn't a father pushing his daughters to excel, it was an entire family who agreed they were going to move into the world of tennis and they were going to chase this gigantic dream.”
He went on, “They weren’t necessarily creating great tennis players, their goal was to create great people who contributed to the human family.”
The Williams family was supportive of the film. “The whole family rallied around the film… Venus and Serena popped in every once in a while to make sure it was authentic,” Smith said.
Richard sometimes was viewed in a negative light, but Will said, “I never agreed with the vilification of Richard Williams. I always saw something different; I saw my father in his eyes… I wanted to show people what was the truth and the beauty of his heart… He disconnected from the rest of the world. But all the love he had was going to his family.”
“King Richard” is in theaters and on HBO Max Friday, November 19.