What sort of fairy tale did King Richard serve up?
The rare kind that's firmly rooted in reality.
No one needed to apply a rosy-hued cinematic glow to Venus and Serena Williams' better-than-fiction origin story, which is now nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Will Smith. Also one of the film's producers, he's considered the frontrunner after winning a Golden Globe, SAG and Critics' Choice Award for his portrayal of the titular visionary, who started charting his daughters' rise to the top of the tennis world before they were even born.
In fact, it all started in the late 1970s when Richard Williams saw a tennis player get a big prize check and decided that was the path his future children with Oracene Price should follow.
We know that sounds like something Steven Spielberg made up, but that's just the beginning of the true story.
In one scene, for instance, Richard doesn't like where his meeting with a sports agent regarding young Venus' future is going, so he signals his displeasure by farting.
"If it didn't happen for real, you would think it was fake," Smith told USA Today. "You wouldn't believe that somebody would actually do that. They would be cracking up because he would do that if he wasn't hearing what he wanted to hear in the meeting."
Serena also told E! News that she was excited for audiences to see "just how amazing my father was. And the kind of person he really was and I think that really shows through the story."
A story that multiple actors in the film would never have believed was real if they hadn't ended up making this film and interacting with actual Williams family members.
Asked what the most unbelievable-but-true plot point was for her, Aunjanue Ellis, Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Oracene, told Collider, "They had daughters with the intention of making them tennis stars. And that sounds crazy, but that's what happened."
Check out the cast that brought this story you only thought you knew to life:
(An earlier version of this story was published Nov. 19, 2021, at 9:34 a.m. PT)