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Heard on the Street: Will Smith Explains Why Winning the SAG Award Was Emotional

King Richard star Will Smith said he saw parallels between his father, Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., and Richard Williams.
Will Smith as Richard Williams in King Richard

Will Smith as Richard Williams in King Richard

“Just the … look in Venus's eyes when my name got called, it's like we all won. It's like her father won … it's just beautiful.”

“Richard Williams is very, very similar to my father, you know, Black man with a dream that every time he said he wanted to do something there were 50 reasons why he couldn't do it and everybody always told him he was crazy. My father got bashed for how he raised his kids … so I really … got Richard Williams.”

"As an actor … you’re not trying to act something, you’re trying to find it inside of you, and then when they say ‘action,’ you’re trying to really feel it, you're trying to really go to the truth of the emotion to deliver whatever the idea is about the human experience, and I just understood Richard Williams so deeply and fell in love with his family.”

— Will Smith explains why winning the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 2022 SAG Awards, for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard, was an emotional night for him. The biopic takes a look at how Williams coached his daughters Venus and Serena into athletes who would dominate the professional tennis world. Smith told Extra on his big night that he saw parallels between his father, Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., and Williams. The rapper-turned-actor also revealed how fellow nominee Denzel Washington has mentored him through some tough moments in Hollywood:

“Denzel and I have a long-standing relationship, so he’s taken a whole lot of 2 a.m. calls from me over the past couple of decades … He has seen and mentored many versions of Will Smith. He just hugged me up and he was like, ‘You know this is your year.’ He said, ‘I'm so proud of the man that you've become.’ See? I'm about to be crying again.”