The Real ‘King Richard’ Breaks Silence On Will Smith’s Oscars Slap Nearly A Year Later

It’s been nearly a year since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, though the televised moment remains a major topic of conversation today. Many specifically continue to debate the severity of Smith’s actions and whether he should face professional consequences for what he did. A slew of celebrities have spoken out on the situation in the past year, yet there’s one notable individual who hasn’t. That person is Richard Williams, the “King Richard” that Smith portrayed in the movie of the same name that won him his Academy Award. Now, Williams has finally broken his silence. 

Will Smith was lauded for his role as Richard Williams, who is widely known for guiding daughters Venus and Serena to success as professional tennis players. The dad and retired tennis coach tends to stay out of the spotlight these days, but The Sun was able to catch up with him to get his take on Smith’s slap. Williams, who reportedly saw the clip the day after the ceremony, offered diplomatic thoughts on the moment and how Smith should proceed: 

I think that whatever he [Will] wants to do, that’s what he should do. People are going to think what they want to think. If he apologized [that’s good], however he wants to deal with the situation. I wouldn’t judge anyone.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air icon was candid about his view of Venus and Serena Williams’ father back when he was promoting the film during the 2021-2022 awards season. He explained that he actually fell in love with Richard years before he landed his role in King Richard. The performer’s perspective of the coach was solidified when he once saw him supporting Venus during a televised interview. The Bad Boys alum was struck by the level of confidence that Richard was able to instill in his daughter, and that apparently came to mind when he was offered the chance to play the family man.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comic made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and later yelled expletives at him from his seat. Smith issued an apology the following week and resigned from the Academy, before the group punished him with a 10-year ban. He’d put out a more detailed message specifically aimed at Rock months later. Richard Williams, who says the actor has “a great deal for myself and my family,” believes the ban to be somewhat excessive. During his interview, he also shared thoughts on whether Smith’s award should be revoked in light of what happened: 

They should let him keep his Oscar, too. When a person [has] worked for [it] so much, then leave it alone. I really appreciate him doing so very much so I could never criticize him.

Others, however, have chastised the Pursuit of Happyness star over the slap. Jim Carrey was “sickened” by the slap and the fact that the actor still received applause when he accepted his Oscar. Fellow comedians like Steve Harvey were also disappointed with the way that things went down. Chris Rock himself has also shared blunt thoughts about getting hit. However, Kevin Hart gave Will Smith the benefit of the doubt. In his estimation, “people make mistakes, and from mistakes they should be allowed time to fucking recover.” Denzel Washington, who spoke with Smith after the slap, also offered tempered thoughts on his colleague’s situation.

Richard Williams’ seem to line up with those of Kevin Hart and Denzel Washington. He’s clearly proud of Will Smith and only wants to see him thrive as he continues to move forward following the slap. As of late, the A-lister has been promoting his latest movie, Emancipation (which is streamable with an Apple TV+ subscription). Smith has received some praise and support during this recent awards season, but one would think that he’d be particularly comforted to know that “King Richard” himself is in his corner right now.

You can check out King Richard for yourself by streaming it with an HBO Max subscription, and check out CinemaBlend’s schedule of 2023 new movie releases for info on upcoming offerings.

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