‘King Richard’: Will Smith Used His Relationship With Daughter Willow to Understand the Development of a Young Woman Versus a Boy: ‘It’s a Different Thing’

Will Smith has appeared in dozens of high-profile movies over the years, from action blockbusters like Independence Day to romantic comedies such as Hitch. While he might have originally risen to fame as an action star, these days, Smith is well known for his skills as a dramatic actor. Smith’s latest project, King Richard, is earning the actor awards-show buzz, and with the tale of Serena Williams’ father now streaming on HBO Max, many fans are diving deep to learn what they can about how Smith’s experience behind the scenes, and what he took away from filming. 

‘King Richard’ is a new film on HBO Max

King Richard is now streaming on HBO Max, after dropping on the platform in mid-November 2021. The film tells the story of Richard Williams, the father and coach of Serena and Venus Williams. Smith portrays Richard Williams, detailing in harsh detail how the man worked fiercely to protect and nurture his young daughters as they grew to become tennis champions. 

Smith is earning praise from critics for his immersive portrayal of Richard Williams—and ultimately, his work could earn him some awards. For Smith, however, the film has been a labor of love – and the story of Richard Williams and his daughters inspired the actor years before Smith got the opportunity to play him in a movie.

As Smith revealed in a recent interview “there was an interview that Venus was doing,…and it’s a famous interview where Richard Williams snaps on the reporter and says, ‘now she done said what she done said, with a whole lot of confidence,’ and I saw that in real time and the look of Venus’s face burned, that image burned in my heart.” As reported by Yahoo News, Smith went on to detail how “that’s how I wanted my daughter to look when I showed up and that interview had really changed my parenting, at that time.”

Will Smith smiling in front of a black background
Will Smith | Jim Spellman/Getty Images

What did Will Smith say about his favorite experience filming ‘King Richard’?

Smith used his experience as a parent when it came time to film King Richard. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith was interviewed by his two young co-stars, Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney, who play Serena and Venus Williams in the film. Opening up about his “most fun” moment during filming, Smith said it was “Those times in the bus with five daughters. Girls are really different than boys.”

The true story of Richard Williams and his daughters had an impact on Smith, and he made sure to note how challenging it is to portray a real person. He also had some advice to share with his young co-stars regarding their careers. 

Will Smith shared advice for his young co-stars on ‘King Richard’

When Saniyya Sidney asked Smith to share some advice for her and Demi Singleton’s career, the veteran actor’s answer was immediate. “Be conscious of the people you are interacting with — you’re going to see them over and over again. They’re going to carry the energy with them of how you treat them.” Smith also advised the two actors that there will be “lean years” in their careers and that during those times, they will want to rely on the friends that they made on their way to the top.

Smith also jokingly referenced his flop movie Wild Wild West as an example of a “lean years” film, proving that the superstar still has a sense of humor about his career, in spite of his superstar status. Viewers can now catch Smith in King Richard on HBO Max and in select theaters. 

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