Will Smith was prepared to get into three hours’ worth of prosthetics to portray Richard Williams in the biopic King Richard, according to director Reinaldo Marcus Green.
In an interview Green had with Insider, he said that he shot down the idea of Smith using prosthetics to portray the iconic father-turned-coach of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
“They made him look like Richard Williams, it was straight up shocking,” he said, commenting on the cheek and nose prosthetics the makeup team used to turn Smith into Williams. However, Green said that while Warner Bros. and Smith’s team were thrilled about the idea of Smith becoming Williams, Green said, “I was like, ‘Look, you guys did an incredible job, but I don’t want that.'”
"Will has his acting coach who has been with him for 30 movies, he had a dialect coach so he could speak similar to Richard, we have so much," he continued.
“And it would have been three hours of Will being in the makeup chair every day. Who wants to do that?…I looked at Will straight in the eye and said, ‘Look, we don’t need that.'”
Green didn’t want audiences to get too wrapped up in Smith’s physical transformation and ignore his acting performance, saying, “We don’t need him to look like Will Smith. We need him to sink in and disappear, but that doesn’t mean making him look like Richard.”
The conversation about prosthetics is similar to the controversy Zoe Saldana endured while filming Nina in full prosthetics and darker skin to look more like singer-activist Nina Simone. The controversy was amplified because Saldana is naturally lighter-skinned than Simone, and has more Eurocentric features.
King Richard will debut in theaters and HBO Max Nov. 19.