The Williams Sisters Only Agreed To Executive Produce King Richard After Seeing The Film

It doesn't matter how famous you are, there are always equally (or more!) famous people that can throw you into an anxiety loop. I personally love hearing about the situations that make incredibly successful people feel nervous, because it makes me feel better about my own nerves. I guess it's nice to know that anxiety is forever? Or something? That no one can escape it no matter what they do? I don't know. Maybe that's something I have to hash out with a professional. 

Anyway, Will Smith opened up about working with Venus and Serena Williams on his upcoming film "King Richard," you know, the one where he plays their father, and it's a very relatable anecdote laced with his worries about doing their story justice. As Smith explains in an interview about "King Richard" with Collider:

"It is terrifying when you play a real person that is still alive, and you know that they're going to see it. It was beautiful. Venus and Serena were really excited about the possibility, and they said that they would potentially be executive producers and they were going to walk us through the whole process, but they were going to withhold whether or not they put their names on the film until they saw it."

But What Do Venus and Serena Think?

To give you a little bit more context, "King Richard" follows the story of the Williams sisters as they make their way from being kids in Compton to their current positions as two of the most famous and driven women in sports history. Smith plays their father/coach, Richard Williams, Venus is played by Saniyya Sidney ("Fences"), and Serena is played by Demi Singleton ("Godfather of Harlem"). While the story follows the sisters' rise, the entire film is really seen through their father's eyes and highlights his drive to help his daughters become the best in the game. Considering Richard Williams is still very much alive, you can see why Smith would be more than a little nervous about his portrayal, especially when an executive producer title is on the line.

Lucky for Smith, this isn't his first time portraying a real living person, but it sounds like those worries about doing the story justice never really go away. Especially when you know the children of that person are about to watch your movie for the first time. As he says in the Collider interview:

"So then I get the call that Venus and Serena are walking into the theater to see the film, and it's the worst two hours ever. It's the worst two hours, because you spend so much time creating these things, and there's literally only one audience when you do [a film based on a real person]. I did it with Muhammad Ali, and then with "The Pursuit of Happyness", and "Concussion", with people that were all alive. It's the only audience, and you hope to God—you've spent a year to tell this story—and you hope that they like it.

Thankfully, Smith's story has a happy ending. "Venus and Serena cried all the way through," he says in the interview. "They loved it."

"King Richard" is heading to theaters on November 19, 2021.