Venus and Serena Williams are world-renowned tennis champions, but the first to recognize their potential was their father and original coach, Richard Williams. Similarly, critics are already recognizing the Oscar-winning potential of the film based on the patriarch’s push to make his daughters the best in the game, the upcoming King Richard, starring Will Smith in the titular role.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times:
The Telluride Film Festival world premiere of the crowd-pleasing “King Richard,” a drama charting the rise of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, was expected to launch Will Smith into the Oscar race for his portrayal of the girls’ demanding dad and coach, Richard Williams. And it did just that, providing Smith with his most challenging role in two decades, a loving, egocentric father who, it turns out, does know what’s best for his daughters.
Smith is 52 and, sporting grey-flecked stubble, we’ve never seen him this far from Fresh Prince freshness. The movie harnesses his charisma to fine effect, channeling it into Richard’s stubborn, ego-driven episodes and adding lighter, equally insightful touches too...
Aside from garnering early Oscar buzz for Smith, the “feel-good film” reportedly has another treat in store for moviegoers and lovers of Black excellence. “Be Alive,” a new original song by Beyoncé co-written for the film with Roc Nation artist DIXSON debuted during the closing credits.
“That means that Beyoncé will perform at the Oscars next year,” predicts the LA Times, which adds:
There’s no way the academy is snubbing her again after the whole fiasco over “Spirit,” her sweeping anthem from “The Lion King” that somehow failed to earn a nod because voters couldn’t stop themselves from giving Diane Warren another nomination.
Leave it to Beyoncé to save the Oscars. Because if the combination of “King Richard” and Queen Bey can’t drum up a little interest, then the situation is grimmer than anyone cares to admit.
As previously reported by The Root, both Venus and Serena are on board as executive producers of King Richard, as is their sister Isha Price. Sundance 2018 Special Jury Prize winner Reinaldo Marcus Green directed the biopic, which also co-stars Aunjanue Ellis as Williams matriarch turned tennis coach Oracene Price and Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as young Venus and Serena, respectively.
Reportedly ripe with teachable moments about ambition, humility, representation, family, and even Black history, King Richard will premiere simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on Nov. 19.
Updated: Friday, 9/3/21 at 11:25 p.m., ET: It should be noted that Smith is also an executive producer on King Richard, and as further noted by Variety: “if the film were to be nominated for best picture in addition to Best Actor, [Smith] would be the second Black man to be nominated for acting and producing the same year, following [Denzel] Washington for “Fences” (2016).”