WITH its inspiring tale of two girls giving their all to become tennis legends, King Richard is a wholesome movie with Oscar glory written all over it.
Unsurprisingly, Will Smith was determined to star as Venus and Serena Williams’ unconventional father Richard, who plotted their path to the top with ruthless precision.
Will Smith’s ‘open marriage’ and Kardashian-like ‘confessional’ interviews could cost him an OscarCredit: Alamy
His remarkable portrayal of the steely father, complete with gently stooping head, tight red shorts and Southern accent, has made him the favourite to win the Best Actor Academy Award the 53-year-old star has always craved.
But today an Oscars insider says the star’s unconventional marriage and sex life, and trashy Kardashian- like “confessional” interviews, could scupper that dream.
Success would be third time lucky for Will, who previously received Best Actor nominations for his movies Ali and The Pursuit Of Happyness.
However, the members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences selecting the Oscar winners are an ageing and conservative lobby.
One insider has told The Sun that Will and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith airing details of their “open marriage” is what stands in the way of the Independence Day star holding a golden statuette aloft at Sunday’s glittering ceremony.
Their switch to confessional TV with the Red Table Talk show and X-rated chats about masturbation, multiple orgasms and having sex in a limo puts them in the realm of tacky reality TV — and that places a big question mark over their artistic integrity.
The Academy voter says: “Will and Jada are building a billion-dollar TV, film and internet empire and that makes the industry jealous.
“I would say that’s why people like taking shots at Will for his strange marriage situation with Jada and their trainwreck public airing of it.
“She’s put the Smith family in the same category as the Kardashians, and would the Academy ever give a Kardashian an Oscar?
“That logic is why people think Will isn’t quite in the commanding position in the awards race that it seems.”
That would explain why the star was so swift to react to a joke Bafta host Rebel Wilson made about Jada seeing other men.
The morning after Will won the Best Actor Bafta, he went on an American breakfast show to insist “there’s never been infidelity in our marriage”.
It was unusual for the normally light-hearted performer to take a gag so seriously.
During her Red Table Talk show, Jada had admitted to getting romantically entangled with singer August Alsina in 2020 during a “separation” from Will, who has been married to her for almost a quarter of a century.
Recently, Will has admitted to deciding to give the actress her “freedom” and taking a hallucinogenic substance during that collapse in their relationship.
What the star does deny is that either of them cheated on each other — insisting instead that these sexual dalliances were conducted knowingly.
Putting a positive spin on his candidness, Will said: “I have decided that chatter about my life can be of a benefit to people.”
In his self-titled memoir, the actor previously told how at the beginning of his romance with Jada, they drank constantly and had sex several times a day for four months.
He wrote: “I started to wonder if this was a competition. Either way, as far as I was concerned, there were two possibilities: One: I would satisfy this woman sexually, or, Two: I was going to die trying.”
Will and Jada are building a billion dollar TV, film and internet empire and that makes the industry jealous.
A Hollywood insider
He also opened up about how he used having “rampant” sex with “so many women” as a coping mechanism after he was cheated on aged 16
He wrote: “It was so constitutionally disagreeable to the core of my being that I developed a psychosomatic reaction to having an orgasm.
“It would literally make me gag and sometimes even vomit.”
Will also visited an intimacy coach who helped him understand his teen dream about having a “harem” of women, including Halle Berry, which he feared was “sinful” due to his “Christian upbringing”.
Meanwhile Jada has said she had a sex addiction when younger, and boasted she’s had “lots of experience with sex toys”.
During an “exploration state” — before dating Will — she claimed she gave herself five orgasms a day.
She also revealed she and Will enjoy an adventurous sex life, indulging in roleplay.
Will has said Jada gets a thrill out of watching his sex scenes on screen, claiming she’s a “little freaky like that”.
And speaking about their open marriage, Will said: “We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison.”
Winning an Oscar requires a huge charm offensive, and The Sun’s awards insider believes Will has to keep campaigning for every vote.
He still faces stiff competition from British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, for The Power Of The Dog, and Andrew Garfield, for Tick, Tick . . . Boom!, to claim the ultimate showbusiness crown.
I think if Will’s going to win this he’s going to have to be campaigning right up until the final voting closes, and even then it won’t be a done deal.
Our insider remarks: “There’s no question Andrew and Benedict have very vocal supporters. I think if Will’s going to win this he’s going to have to be campaigning right up until the final voting closes, and even then it won’t be a done deal.”
To lose would be heart-breaking for the workaholic star, who put his marriage on the line in order to become one of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Right from the beginning, Will has methodically plotted his route to the top.
In a new interview, the actor — the son of a former US airman — tells how at the age of 21 he told his high school friend and later manager James Lassiter: “I wanted to be the biggest movie star in the world.”
The two men watched the top ten movies of all time to see if there was a “pattern” for success.
They realised a blockbuster needed special effects, creatures and a love story.
For that reason Will took the lead roles in Independence Day and Men In Black.
As a result he became the first actor to star in eight consecutive movies that topped the box office.
Giving his all to his career, though, meant he did not have enough time for Jada and his three children, Trey, 29, Jaden, 23, and 21-year-old Willow.
I’m attracted to biopics, I’m much more comfortable as an actor if I have a model, right?
Will says: “I stayed in peak condition. I had people around me who loved me and who were ready to work and who believed in the dream. I didn’t drink. No drugs. I didn’t party on the weekends.
“Like my life — I looked at my career as if I was an athlete, and I was a prime athlete and wanted to stay in prime condition.
“When you’re doing that, you ruin your home life. I had to catch up and get that back together.
“But during that time there was no work-life balance whatsoever.
The other problem with going after money-making movie hits is that they do not impress Oscar voters.
Neither Samuel L Jackson, who is the biggest box office-grossing actor, nor Harrison Ford, who is not far behind, has won one.
What does garner critical acclaim is playing historical figures.
‘Focused on diversity
It is no coincidence that all of Will’s Oscar nominations have arrived when he portrayed real-life people.
In 2002 he got one for playing heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali and five years later he starred as struggling dad Chris Gardner in The Pursuit Of Happyness.
Having someone to mimic is something the rapper-turned-actor finds easier.
Will says: “I’m attracted to biopics.
“I’m much more comfortable as an actor if I have a model, right?
“I consider myself naturally a comedian, but if I can see someone do something, I can mimic well.
“So it was easier for me to make the transition into drama when I had a full model.”
Will spent four months getting to know Ali, who died six years ago, but hasn’t had the chance to sit down with the reclusive Williams.
One more issue that has held back Will’s award season ambitions is his apparent links to Scientology.
Jada has admitted to studying “dianetics”, a belief system created by the group’s late founder L Ron Hubbard, and Will made a large donation to a school that teaches elements of the controversial religion
The bottom line on this matter is that Scientologists often get nominated for Oscars but they only rarely win.
But neither of them has ever confirmed they are Scientologists.
The Academy voter comments: “The bottom line on this matter is that Scientologists often get nominated for Oscars but they only rarely win.”
What the Smiths and some others believe has robbed Will of an Oscar so far is the colour of his skin.
In 2016 there was outrage that no black actors or actresses received nominations and the term #Oscars- SoWhite trended on social media.
Will’s excellent performance as real-life campaigning doctor Bennet Omalu in Concussion was overlooked even though it dealt with the important issue of head injuries in American football.
Jada called for a boycott of the ceremony and Will refused to attend the glitzy event.
Academy members are pre- dominantly white and reforms have since been put in place to try to make the awards more inclusive.
Ironically, King Richard has itself been accused of “colourism” because Will is not as dark-skinned as Richard Williams.
The allegation is that the showbusiness world prefers performers with lighter complexions.
Ultimately, though, the Oscars should be handed out to the actors and actresses who give the best performances.
Will has picked up the main awards this year for his latest role, including a Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe, which means critics agree that his contribution has been outstanding.
With less than a week to go until the envelope is opened to reveal this year’s winner, the star has very diplomatically been praising the cast and team behind King Richard rather than bigging himself up.
It is an unwritten Oscar rule that nominees do not talk about how much they want the award.
But when Will discusses Richard Williams’s dreams, he is most probably also thinking about himself.
The star concludes: “We all have dreams we’re scared to say out loud and we want to be willing to say out loud and we feel that people look down on us.
One insider has told The Sun that Will and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s airing of their ‘open marriage’ is what stands in his way
His new movie King Richard is a wholesome story that has Oscar glory written all over it
Will previously received a Best Actor nomination for The Pursuit Of Happyness
He received another for his role in Ali (2001)
Jada admitted to getting romantically entangled with singer August Alsina in 2020