Will Smith Cries as He Praises 'King Richard' Costars While Accepting SAG Award for Best Actor

Will Smith won the top male acting honor at the 2022 SAG Awards over Andrew Garfield, Benedict Cumberbatch, Javier Bardem and Denzel Washington

will smith

Will Smith has taken home the 2022 SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.

Smith, 53, nabbed the trophy over fellow nominees Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick ... Boom!), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth).

Taking the stage to accept the honor on Sunday night at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, Smith cried while calling his win for King Richard "one of the greatest moments" of his career. He then raved about the real-life legacy of his titular character Richard Williams, who is the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

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"Richard Williams is a dreamer like no one you've ever known," said Smith, who plays Richard in the film. "He has a power of belief that borders on insanity and sometimes tips over the border, which is absolutely necessary to take something from impossible to possible."

Smith then took a moment to praise his King Richard castmates, including rising stars Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton.

"You guys are actors, so you know how sometimes your onscreen characters kind of bleed into real life," he said. "To walk you around this room tonight, to parent you on this film, to deliver you into this business has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life."

Before wrapping his speech, Smith gave a special shout-out to the Williams family. (Venus, 41, was in attendance for Sunday's ceremony.)

"Venus, Serena, the Williams family, you entrusted me and our group with your story. You didn't agree to put your name on it until you saw the final project. I get that, I get that. That's cool. That's real because we be messing stuff up sometimes," he joked.

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"But when I got the call and you watched the movie and you said you loved it, I just want to say thank you very much," he concluded. "It was my deepest pleasure to honor your family and to tell your story to the world. Thank you all."

Smith produced King Richard and also stars in the sports drama as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The film chronicles the sisters' journey to becoming professional athletes.

The actor previously explained to Entertainment Tonight why he gave bonuses to his co-workers on King Richard, telling the outlet in November, "All I can do is my part, so it's always an honor and a pleasure for me to do my part, and everybody put in brilliant work."

He added, "It was the COVID shutdowns; people really stuck with us."

This marks the first SAG Award for Smith. He has already taken home the Golden Globe for his role as Richard Williams, and is also up for the Academy Award and BAFTA Award. King Richard is also nominated for best picture at the Oscars.

RELATED VIDEO: Venus Williams Says There Could Be a Sequel to King Richard: 'We're Really Trying to Work On It'

SAG-AFTRA unveiled the nominations for the awards ceremony on Instagram last month, with help from Rosario Dawson and Vanessa Hudgens.

Nominees include films like Don't Look Up and House of Gucci, as well as television series like Squid Game and Ted Lasso. Celebrities who scored nods include Cynthia Erivo, Sandra Oh, Steve Martin and Jennifer Aniston, among many others.

This year, Helen Mirren is the 57th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award. The 76-year-old actress is currently the most-decorated recipient of the honor, with a total of 13 SAG Awards nominations and five wins.

The 28th Annual SAG Awards are being broadcast live on TNT and TBS Sunday, Feb. 27.

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