He made sure he did the right thing!
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Will Smith personally cut checks to his King Richard co-stars.
Will Smith just released his most recent film, King Richard, telling the story of Richard Williams, the father of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams. Smith both produced and starred in the film and enjoyed a reported $40 million payday from his efforts.
Initially, WarnerMedia agreed to a theatrical release only. When CEO Jason Kilar pivoted to a theatrical slate and simultaneous streaming via HBO Max, Smith made sure that he offered his co-stars compensation for their lost theatrical returns. He then personally wrote bonus checks to the cast which included Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal and Aunjanue Ellis, among others.
Both Sidney and Singleton, who portray the Williams sisters in the film, praised Smith for creating an inviting atmosphere on and off screen.
“Being on set with him was an absolute blast,” said Singleton.
“He made sure that everyone felt comfortable and safe and had a great time – it was never a dull moment – ever. He made sure everyone felt included and felt the love… He has such a big heart,” added Sidney.
Co-star Layla Crawford echoed those sentiments, saying the bonuses weren’t the first time Smith was more than generous to the cast.
“He gave us Polaroid cameras and different treats all the time. He’s just such a generous and sweet person. He also gave us iPhone 12 Pro Max gifts in boxes. We ripped them open and everyone started crying. I literally cried my eyes out – it was the best gift ever. Will Smith is a blessing, I learned so much from working with him,” said Crawford.
Veteran actor Tony Goldwyn confirmed that all the hype is true, saying he was pleasantly surprised to receive the bonus.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I have never worked with anyone as generous as Will. What you said [about the bonuses] is true. When this movie, when Warner Brothers decided not to release it, to put it out on streaming, there was a lot of controversy as people know and we just got a call from Will saying, ‘I’m going to make this right.’ I’ve never experienced it, I was floored. I just couldn’t believe it,” said Goldwyn.
Smith eventually responded to all the praise he was receiving, speaking to Entertainment Tonight about the gesture.
“All I can do is my part, so it’s always an honor and a pleasure for me to do my part, and everybody put in brilliant work. It was the COVID shutdowns, people really stuck with us…It was a much more difficult process than anybody thought they were signing up for. I just felt that it was fair,” he explained.
King Richard is in theaters and streaming via HBO Max now!
Photo Courtesy of Associated Press