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Will Smith cast as Serena, Venus Williams' father in biopic King Richard

will smith, king richard, sports

Will Smith is no stranger to movies about sports: he’s stepped onto the field for one about football (CONCUSSION), into the ring for one about boxing (ALI), and hopped into a ship for a few about the sport of alien punching (INDEPENDENCE DAY, MEN IN BLACK). Now he’s about to step onto the court for a movie about tennis, signing on to play Richard Williams, the strict father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams in the new movie KING RICHARD. The story will follow him as he overcame hardship and a troubled past to raise two icons of the sport, proving that if you work really, really hard you can one day have kids that are more successful than you.

Deadline got the scoop about the casting, and while the movie has no director it's being produced off a spec script by Zach Baylin, which was a runner-up for the 2018 Black-List. Williams is a textbook sports parent, pushing his children towards greatness as soon as they could hold a racket and even formulating a 78-page plan to get them to the top of the sports world. His daughters certainly made it there, with Serena winning 23 Grand Slam tournament wins, and Venus winning seven, and together having 14 Grand Slam doubles tournament wins.

On the producing end, Tim White and Trevor White will produce under their Star Thrower Entertainment banner (THE POST, WIND RIVER), with Smith producing via his Overbrook Entertainment label. Allan Mandelbaum and Caleeb Pinkett are executive producing for Star Thrower and Overlook, respectively, and Mary Solomon and Rick Rickertsen are co-producers.

Smith is a big name for the indie biopic and stands to reason he has a lot of faith in the project. He’s been making some questionable role decisions in recent years, starring in the critical dud for Netflix, BRIGHT, and with his appearance as the Genie in the upcoming ALADDIN, remake drawing mixed reactions. This is a step toward more dramatic territory that has landed him awards attention, including for ALI, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS and CONCUSSION. The former two secured him Oscar nominations, so perhaps he’s looking for a third with KING RICHARD.

Now the biggest question is will the sisters be involved as producers, and will their characters have big roles in the movie? It seems weird to me to have two of the biggest tennis legends around have a movie made about their lives, but with the story focused entirely on their dad. He seems like a fascinating man, but I’m just as interested to see a movie about all three and how their goals to be the best affected their relationships. But hey, I haven’t read the script, and by all accounts, it’s pretty great and got big names on board, so I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one for sure.

Will Smith is currently shooting BAD BOYS III for a January 2020 release.

Source: Deadline

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