‘King Richard’ director Reinaldo Marcus Green has spoken about working with Hollywood star Will Smith, who also is a producer for the film.
Talking about working with Will not only as Richard, but also as a producer, Green said: “Will is an amazing performer. We already know him as a great actor. As he was already attached, I thought, ‘It really is going to be a perfect role for Will for a lot of reasons. He’s definitely of an age in his life where I thought he can give the gravitas to this particular performance’.”
The director added that he had seen Will in ‘Concussion’ and a couple other movies where he had taken some prosthetics or taken an accent to certain levels, and I just wanted to make sure whatever we were going to do for this film was not going to be a distraction to the performance itself.
“And through conversations with Will, he was very receptive to that. It was about finding the balance with somebody as eccentric and as well-known as Richard is. But Will Smith is playing that role. So part of it was, how do we make Will disappear? So it was about really finding the right level of prosthetics, not going full, really just offsetting his look enough for him to disappear.”
“He’s still handsome, despite eating muffins for a couple months (LAUGHS). He still looks great. And we found that perfect pocket for Will to work with. Will has a great team – Judy Murdock, who does his hair and makeup; Pierce Austin, who does his hair; Aaron Speiser, who’s his acting coach working on his behavior, slumping his shoulders and getting that right. So, I had access to some of the best in the field as well, which was super helpful.”
Green shared that there were our conversations together, as to what we wanted to achieve from Richard and that character.
“And again, not sugar coating who Richard was. And Will was willing to go there. I liken Will to a Tom Brady (football quarterback with six Super Bowl wins). He’s accomplished so much in his life. He’s already done so much, but he wants to be more. And any great performer will give you the moon and back. What I was most impressed with Will-on top of what he did in front of the camera-was how giving he was off-camera, how giving he was to the girls.”
Green said that “everybody levels up when Will Smith is in a scene.”
“So, you get incredible performances by virtue of how giving he is offscreen. He didn’t run to the trailer when it was time for the girls to be on-camera; he was there. It was amazing to watch. He was really giving in that way. And it was really special to have that level of performance. And then, supporting Will with this incredible cast,” Green said.
What kind of knowledge of the Williams family did he bring with him when you first read ‘King Richard’?
Green said: “I brought no knowledge. I didn’t know much about the family at all, to be honest with you. I wasn’t an avid tennis fan. My allegiance was to Venus and Serena as Black excellence in the sport. I would say that of Tiger Woods, too. It was like,’Great! Somebody of colour is doing something great.'”
“I support that. It’s wonderful. I didn’t know much about the family, other than what I had seen on the internet or in the trades. But, in learning about the family, it became such a rich tapestry. The script was great-Zach Baylin wrote a beautiful screenplay. And then, part of my job was to work with him to figure out how to make it deeper.
“What were we really after? What we were looking for, what we were trying to say? And those were the things that we spent the next few months really trying to hammer home in the process.”