In the latest episode of EW's The Awardist podcast, Bernthal chats about the 'special' Richard Williams sports drama.

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green's sports drama King Richard, centered on formidable patriarch Richard Williams and his determination to cement daughters Venus and Serena places in tennis history, is already garnering Oscar buzz, both for best picture and for its stars. Jon Bernthal, who plays the sisters' former coach Rick Macci in the film, could be game, set, and match to receive his first Academy Award. 

Despite his long, illustrious career in Hollywood, the star tells EW's Clarissa Cruz he remains  "just as hungry" for the type of cinematic storytelling in the Will Smith-led film in the latest episode of EW's The Awardist podcast.

"It's crazy to say this, but I've been doing this now for a long time," Bernthal says. "I still am just as hungry [and] it's just as vital to me now as it ever has been. I know that this [script] was special. I just knew. I knew making it. I knew seeing it. I know just from what it's about, how it's approached, how it's dealt with and how it was made; and the community that was formed, it's special."

In addition to Bernthal and Smith, who's also generating Oscar buzz, the film stars Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney as Serena and Venus, respectively, Tony Goldwyn, Aunjanue Ellis, Dylan McDermott, and Liev Schreiber. Bernthal praises the "extraordinary" spirit of the cast, calling himself an "ensemble-based guy."

"I believe that you're as good as the group of the people that you're with," he explains. "And this group of people is unlike any other group that I've worked with. I think when you look at the actresses, all of them, that play the young women, the sisters in this movie, what they do is extraordinary."

Will Smith and Jon Bernthal in 'King Richard'
| Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The film, a meditation on the "power of family" and parenthood, as Bernthal puts it, is a front-runner in the awards race — still, the actor admits he isn't quite sure how to navigate the awards terrain; or, more specifically, nabbing his first statuette at the Oscars. 

"I don't know how to judge those kinds of things," Bernthal says. "I don't know how to really approach them. I think that when I look at what Will has done — when I look at what my castmates have done, when I look at what [director Green] has done, what [cinematographer] Robert [Elswit] did, what [screenwriter] Zach [Baylin] did — I'm blown away." 

As a parent, the familial themes of the script resonated.

"I'm a father myself, and it's the most important job that I have, and I love being a dad," Bernthal says. "I think one thing that goes hand in hand with being a parent is the fact that you [are] going to make mistakes and that sometimes it's not pretty. I love that this film didn't shy away from that."

Listen to the full interview on EW's The Awardist podcast below or available wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe for new episodes every Monday. Our new season covers the road to the 2022 Oscars with in-depth analysis and interviews with Kenneth BranaghMike MillsMaggie GyllenhaalHalle Berry, and more Oscar hopefuls.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

Related content:

King Richard (2021 movie)

Will Smith stars in this biopic about the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

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