Will Smith says Venus and Serena Williams insisted on seeing ‘King Richard’ before putting their names to it, and it was the ‘worst 2 hours’ of his life



Still from "King Richard"

“King Richard.”Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment

  • Will Smith described showing Venus and Serena Williams “King Richard” for the first time.

  • “It was the worst two hours of my life,” he said.

  • Smith plays Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in the biopic.

Will Smith appeared on “The Graham Norton Show” Friday and described the uncomfortable experience of showing Venus and Serena Williams the biopic about them and their father, “King Richard.”

Smith — who produced the film and starred as Richard Williams — said both Venus and Serena Williams had agreed to act as executive producers on the film and aid the production but “wanted to see the movie before they decided if they would put their names to it.”

According to preview quotes from the chat show sent to Insider, Smith called the screening for the Williams sisters “the worst two hours of my life, but they were a mess with tears, and they loved it.”

Later, in reference to his previous work on “Ali,” the biopic of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Smith said: “I had made the mistake of watching ‘Ali’ for the first time while sitting behind Muhammad Ali, and midway through the movie he turned to his wife and said, ‘Was I that crazy?'”

Serena (left) and Venus Williams at the "King Richard" premiere.

Serena and Venus Williams at the “King Richard” premiere.Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

“King Richard” debuted in theaters and on HBO Max on November 19. The film, which was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and has already become an awards-season front-runner, follows Smith’s Richard Williams as he fights to launch the professional tennis careers of his two young daughters from their home in Compton, California, and charts how their ultimate success helped change the game of tennis.

“It was such an opportunity to dive into the life of this family and spend time uncovering their amazing story,” Smith said on “The Graham Norton Show,” discussing his decision to take on the role of Williams. “He predicted Venus and Serena being the world’s number one and number two women’s tennis players two years before they were born! He wrote a 78-page plan. It was a really crazy prophecy and so amazing it’s hard to comprehend.”

Earlier this month, a report in The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Smith, who earned as much as $40 million for his work on the highly anticipated biopic, gave personal cash bonuses to his “King Richard” costars to compensate for the financial impact of Warner Bros.’ decision to release the film simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters.

Speaking about the bonuses with Entertainment Weekly, Smith said it was his “honor” to compensate his castmates.

“All I can do is my part, so it’s always an honor and a pleasure for me to do my part, and everybody put in brilliant work. It was the COVID shutdowns, people really stuck with us,” he said.

“It was a much more difficult process than anybody thought they were signing up for. I just felt that it was fair.”

“The Graham Norton Show” episode featuring Smith is set to air on BBC One on Friday and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Read the original article on Insider


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