Will Smith made sure his King Richard co-stars got paid what they’re worth.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smith dove into his own pockets to pay bonuses to the King Richard cast after WarnerMedia began using the day-to-date release model. The bonuses were to compensate for the amount of money the cast might lose from the film not playing only in theaters. Smith himself was paid $40 million to star in the film as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. He used his existing money to write checks to Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Aunjanue Ellis, Tony Goldwin, Jon Bernthal and others, to go along with the pay they received from Warner Bros.
The move seems to confirm anecdotes from the cast about Smith’s character, with Singleton and Sidney praising Smith for making them feel welcome on set.
“Being on set with him was an absolute blast,” Singleton said at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event. “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,” said Sidney at the event. “He has such a big heart.”
Goldwyn talked about the bonuses to Access Hollywood Tuesday, saying, “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I have never worked with anyone as generous as Will. What you said [regarding bonuses to the cast] is true. When…Warner Bros. decided not to release [the film], to put it 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.”