The story of Serena and Venus Williams’ ascent to sports royalty is legendary. Though many fans know their father was involved in helping them find success, few know all the details. Will Smith’s new movie King Richard is set to take us through his journey, too. And in addition to the A-lister’s talents, the upcoming biopic has pulled together an amazing cast to help tell Richard Williams’ story.
King Richard follows the Williams patriarch, from the beginning of his time coaching them in Compton, California to their Grand Slam wins years later. Will Smith will play the eponymous Richard Williams. And The Hollywood Reporter just announced that he’ll be joined on screen by another gifted actor. Liev Schreiber has signed on to play Paul Cohen, a tennis coach whose previous clients include Pete Sampras and John McEnroe.
Many fans know Liev Schreiber best from his Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated performance in Ray Donovan. But he’s built an impressive career on the stage and screen, including credits in Spotlight, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Wes Anderson’s upcoming The French Dispatch.
And the promising casting news for King Richard doesn’t stop there. THR also reports that The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal and When They See Us’s Aunjaneu Ellis will also star in the film. Jon Bernthal will play tennis coach Rick Macci, who helped train Serena and Venus Williams in the early 1990s. Aunjaeu Ellis will play Serena and Venus’ mother, Brandi Williams.
The Passage star Saniyya Sidney and Godfather of Harlem's Demi Singleton will portray the young Venus and Serena Williams.
Some of Will Smith’s best career work has come from biopics like The Pursuit of Happyness. And especially where sports stories like Ali and Concussion are concerned, he’s proven himself adept at taking real life stories and bringing them to the big screen with the care and dignity they deserve. So it stands to reason we can expect more of the same.
Will Smith has enjoyed a recent string of huge successes at the box office, between last year’s Aladdin and this year’s still-unstoppable Bad Boys for Life. So it will be interesting to see him pivot to a role that appeals to his strengths as a dramatic actor. And in addition to starring in the film, he’ll also produce King Richard with his company Overbrook Entertainment, alongside Star Thrower Entertainment. Warner Bros. Will handle the film’s distribution.
King Richard is currently in production, as written by Zach Baylin. It is being directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, an up-and-coming director whose movie Monsters and Men won the Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature at 2018’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s expected to be released on November 25, 2020. You can keep track of King Richard and every other upcoming movie with our handy 2020 movie guide.