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Will Smith Shares The ‘Biggest Surprise’ About His King Richard Awards Run (And The Critics Are Involved)

Will Smith in King Richard
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

While it seems the world may have agreed that Denzel Washington is the superior actor, Will Smith has certainly earned his fair share of respect in Hollywood as a serious actor. The two iconic actors are squaring off at the Oscars this year, but Smith has landed some award wins for his work in King Richard. The star (who's currently preparing for the I Am Legend sequel), has reflected on some of his other brilliant films and notes one major and surprising difference between his most recent powerful film and his other great works, and it involves critics.

After snatching the SAG for Best Actor and avoiding questions about "entanglements" while at the ceremony, Will Smith secured another award for King Richard at the NBR Gala and had a few words to say about his award sweep. Apparently, he is experiencing something with King Richard that he never had before, even though he's acted lead on a number of iconic, memorable, and all-around outstanding films.

On the red carpet at the event, Will Smith told People that it’s an odd experience having King Richard being unanimously regarded as an amazing film. While he has had some stellar reviews of his other films, they all seem to come with some opposing viewpoints as well. Here it is in his own words:

I guess the biggest surprise so far for me with this film is how unanimous the reaction is to the film. I've made 30 years' worth of movies and there's never been this kind of blanket agreement that it's a good movie. I've made things that, I would read opposing reviews and I'm like, 'Did they even look at the same movie?' you know, with Ali and with The Pursuit of Happyness. Just how many people agree that it's a good movie is a big surprise for me.

Everyone has their own particular tastes that are unique to them, so there’s no real wonder why a film can have so many different critiques. You don’t have to look further than Rotten Tomatoes’ very small list of films that have a score of 100% to see that creating a film that is universally loved is a very hard feat. 

While King Richard didn’t quite earn a palace on that short list, it’s score is pretty high up there, with a 90% from critics and a whopping 98% for audience ratings. With numbers like those, it’s no wonder Will Smith is scooping up awards left and right for his portrayal of the Williams Sisters’ father and coach. 

Just for reference, some of his other films, like I Am Legend, Ali, and The Pursuit of Happyness, are all in the 60’s range on RT. Personally, I loved all the films and have some major love for even more of the actor’s many works. I know a lot of people feel the same way about the star and his movies, but there must be some serious truth to his words, considering that the reviews do seem to conflict.

Denzel Washington and Will Smith still have to duke it out over their 2022 Oscar nominations next week and, no matter what the internet says about Washington being the better actor, Smith’s performance in King Richard looks to be a very serious contender based on how well it's been received. While Washington is already an Oscar winner, Smith may indeed nab his first golden statuette. And such a win would be a great capper to the wave of positive reviews he's received.

Carlie Hoke
Carlie Hoke

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.