For being one of the most influential actors to come out of the 90s, Will Smith is yet to win an Oscar for his performance. But all that could change with the upcoming biopic ‘King Richard’, where the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ actor plays Richard Williams — father and coach to future tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams. The film, which had its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, is set to hit theatres worldwide and HBO Max on November 19 this year.
According to a report in Variety, “‘King Richard’ is the ‘Rocky’ of tennis movies, but also the ‘Rocky’ for every Black child that will watch this and be inspired to greatness in the future, the kind of inspiration our community doesn’t often see.”
Smith grabbed his first Oscar nomination 20 years ago for Michael Mann’s ‘Ali’ (2001), and then another for Gabriel Mucchino’s ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006).
There have only been four Black men to win an Oscar for lead actor in the 93-year history of the Academy — Sidney Poitier (‘Lilies in the Field’), Denzel Washington (‘Training Day’), Jamie Foxx (‘Ray’) and Forest Whitaker (‘The Last King of Scotland’).
Smith is also a credited producer on ‘King Richard’, so if the film were to be nominated for best picture in addition to best actor, he would be the second Black man to be nominated for acting and producing the same year, following Washington for ‘Fences’ (2016).
Aside from garnering early Oscar buzz for Smith, ‘King Richard’ reportedly has another treat in store for moviegoers. ‘Be Alive’, a new original song by Beyonce co-written for the film with Roc Nation artist DIXSON debuted during the closing credits of the film.
“That means that Beyoncé will perform at the Oscars next year,” predicts the Los Angeles Times, which adds: “There’s no way the academy is snubbing her again after the whole fiasco over ‘Spirit’, her sweeping anthem from ‘The Lion King’ that somehow failed to earn a nod because voters couldn’t stop themselves from giving Diane Warren another nomination. Leave it to Beyonce to save the Oscars. Because if the combination of ‘King Richard’ and Queen Bey can’t drum up a little interest, then the situation is grimmer than anyone cares to admit.”