From ‘Fresh Prince’ to ‘King Richard’, Will Smith’s path to the Oscar

LOS ANGELES UNITED STATES.- The Oscar for best actor Will Smith took this Sunday for his role in “King Richard: A Winning Family” is the crowning of a vast career in which the “Fresh Prince” stood out in the world of music, television and cinema.

The charismatic rapper-turned-actor was awarded Hollywood’s biggest award for his portrayal of the father of tennis stars. Venus and Serena Williams in the Warner Bros. biopic.

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At 53, Smith beat out two Oscar winners, Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”) and Denzel Washington (“Macbeth’s Tragedy”), and two other nominees, Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog” ) and Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick… BOOM!”).

Minutes before winning the statuette, Smith starred in an incident that went viral, hitting comedian Chris Rock on stage, who had just made a joke about his wife’s shaved hair, Jada Pinkett Smithwho suffers from alopecia.

“I want to apologize to the Academy” of the Oscars, he said in tears upon receiving the Oscar. “Love makes you do crazy things,” said Will Smith after receiving the trophy.

For Smith, who had been nominated in 2002 for “Ali”, the biographical film about the boxing star, and in 2007 for “The Pursuit of Happyness”, the belief that the third time was the charm materialized this Sunday.

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This Sunday, Smith also became the fifth black actor to win an Oscar for his leading role, following in the footsteps of Sidney Poitier -who died in January-, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker.

rapper and actor

Born in Philadelphia in September 1968, Smith was a good student who could have opted for a college career, but preferred to follow his musical vein.

He joined the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince in 1985, which was commercially successful and won two Grammy Awards.

However, economic reasons pushed him to take the path of acting and the series “The Prince of Rap” launched him to fame.

The series, which portrayed Smith as an inner city teenager who moves to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in California, ran for six seasons and established him as a talented emerging actor.

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It was during this period that the actor got his first movie roles, which allowed him to confirm that talent by starring in “Two Rebel Police” alongside Martin Lawrence in 1995.

The following year, Smith played a pilot fighting aliens in the blockbuster “Independence Day.”

And he would face beings from other planets again in the box office success “Men in Black”, in 1997, the year he released the solo album “Big Willie Style”, which would sell six million copies.

But the success he enjoyed with his first films would be followed by criticism for “The Adventures of Jim West” (1999), which swept theaters but was described by Smith himself as a flop.

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“My biggest loss and the biggest sorrow I’ve ever carried in my acting career was when ‘The Adventures of Jim West’ opened to $52 million. It wasn’t a good movie,” he said.

The disappointment was perhaps compounded when Smith turned down the lead in 1999’s first installment of “The Matrix,” which, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, has spawned four successful films.

Drama and comedy

In the late 1990s and the following decade, Smith was involved in such projects as “Public Enemy” and “Legends of Life.”

He was first nominated by the Academy for playing legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in the 2001 Michael Mann biopic, later working on the sequels to his early hits “Two Bad Cops” and “Men in Black.”

In 2005 he returned to his comedic roots with “Hitch.”

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The following year he starred in “Looking for happiness”with which he would be nominated for an Oscar again thanks to his emotional performance, this time sharing the screen with his son Jaden, the fruit of the union with his second wife, Jada Pinkett, with whom he also has a daughter.

Since then, Smith has worked on more installments of “Men in Black” and “Two Bad Cops,” and has also rehearsed his superhero potential in “Hancock” and “Suicide Squad.”

But Smith’s biggest box office hit would be playing the genie in the live-action version of “Aladdin” that Disney released in 2019.

In his repertoire there are also science fiction projects such as “I am a legend” and “Gemini Project”.

But it was with “King Richard” that Smith garnered some of the best reviews of his long career.

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The film centers on Serena and Venus’ father who, defying all odds, hatched a plan to take them from the courts of the then-gang-dominated California suburb of Compton to become the greatest tennis players of all time.

The filmmakers initially wanted to use prosthetics to make Smith look more like the Williams sisters’ father, but ultimately relied solely on his acting abilities to win over the audience.

“He just morphed into Richard Williams,” his co-star commented. Tony Goldwyn.

Smith says she fell in love with Williams more than two decades ago, after seeing how she defended her daughter Venus, then 14, at a press conference in which she was repeatedly questioned.

Now it was the voters of the Academy who finally fell for Smith.

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