Deadline is reporting that Tony Goldwyn has stepped in to replace Liev Schreiber in the upcoming Venus and Serena Williams biopic King Richard, starring Will Smith. Schreiber, who was forced to step down due to scheduling conflicts brought upon due to the COVID pandemic, was originally set to play Paul Cohen, the renowned tennis coach who worked with John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and the aforementioned Williams sisters. Goldwyn now inherits the part and will join a cast that includes Aunjanue Ellis as family matriarch Brandi Williams, Jon Bernthal as Rick Macci, and Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) and Demi Singleton who portray young versions of Venus and Serena.
Richard Williams, who had no tennis background, overcame tremendous hardship, skepticism, and his own troubled past to raise two of the game’s greatest players. When his daughters were around the age of four, Richard Williams drew up a 78-page plan for their professional tennis careers. He began giving them tennis lessons and the girls learned the game on cracked, weedy public courts in Compton, reportedly after their father brawled with young toughs who were not fans of the sport and would not make way. The Williams sisters went on to become two of the greatest female players in tennis history, with Serena arguably the best ever, with 23 Grand Slam tournament wins. Venus Williams has won seven Grand Slam titles.
The sisters began to assert themselves as Serena won the US Open in 1999 and Venus beat Lindsay Davenport to win the 2000 Wimbledon title. After that victory, Richard shouted “Straight Outta Compton!” (in reference to a song by N.W.A based on that area in Los Angeles) and jumped over the NBC broadcasting booth, catching Chris Evert by surprise and performing a triumphant dance.
Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) will direct the pic. Tim White and Trevor Write (The Post, Wind River, Ingrid Goes West) will produce King Richard via their Star Thrower Entertainment banner. Smith will also produce through his Overbrook Entertainment banner. Allan Mandelbaum and Caleeb Pinkett will serve as executive producers with Mary Solomon and Rick Rickertsen co-producing.
Goldwyn recently appeared in the TV series Lovecraft Country as well as the mini-series Blue Sky Metropolis, though he is perhaps most famous for his role in Scandal and supporting roles in films such as Ghost and The Last Samurai.
King Richard has a current theatrical release date of Nov 19, 2021.