Will Smith Was 'Honored' to Give King Richard Cast, Crew Bonuses: 'All I Can Do Is My Part'

"It's always an honor and a pleasure for me to do my part, and everybody put in brilliant work," Will Smith said

Will Smith
Will Smith. Photo: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty

Will Smith showed his appreciation for the cast of King Richard by gifting them with bonuses.

Smith, 53, produced King Richard and also stars in the sports drama as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The upcoming film chronicles the sisters' journey to becoming professional athletes.

The actor explained to Entertainment Tonight why he gave bonuses to his co-workers on King Richard, telling the outlet, "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. It was the COVID shutdowns, people really stuck with us."

King Richard is one of dozens of Warner Bros. films to debut simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max as part of the studio's 2021 release plan. As part of the schedule, all Warner Bros. movies released this year also debuted on HBO Max for 30 days.

Warner Bros. Pictures

"It was a much more difficult process than anybody thought they were signing up for," Smith told ET. "I just felt that it was fair."

The Hollywood Reporter revealed earlier this month that Smith received about $40 million for the film, and subsequently used his own money to pay bonuses to the cast of King Richard, including Saniyya Sidney (Venus) and Demi Singleton (Serena), as well as Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal and Aunjanue Ellis.

A source told THR the bonuses from Smith were an additional cash sum given to his co-stars in addition to what Warner Bros. had already given them to compensate for the simultaneous streaming release.

Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures

Layla Crawford, who plays Lyndrea Price in the film, told THR Smith regularly doled out gifts for his co-stars.

"He gave us Polaroid cameras and different treats all the time. He's just such a generous and sweet person," she said. "He also gave us iPhone 12 Pro Max gifts in boxes. We ripped them open and everyone started crying. I literally cried my eyes out — it was the best gift ever. Will Smith is a blessing, I learned so much from working with him."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Goldwyn, 61, echoed Crawford's comments to Access Hollywood, telling the outlet in a Nov. 8 interview that Smith was one of the most "generous" people he's worked with in the past 30 years.

"What you said [he gave bonuses/gifts to all of the talent] is true," Goldwyn said. "When this movie, when Warner Brothers decided not to release it, to put it out on streaming, there was a lot of controversy as people know and we just got a call from Will saying, 'I'm going to make this right.' I've never experienced it, I was floored. I just couldn't believe it."

King Richard premieres in theaters and on HBO Max Nov. 19.

Related Articles