Reinaldo Marcus Green, director of Oscar-nominated film King Richard is busy. With the film is up for five Oscar nominations—including Best Picture and Best Actor—there is a lot of buzz around Will Smith’s portrayal as Richard Williams, the driven coach and father of two tennis stars, Serena Williams and her sister Venus.
Green was recently on the green carpet (yes, the Irish version of the red carpet) at the US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde Awards this week in Los Angeles. He was there to present the Wilde Card Award to Irish actor Dónall Ó Héalai. Before stepping inside the venue, he spoke to Forbes about the meaning of awards and the fine art of storytelling.
What did you learn from making a film like King Richard, while telling the story of the Williams sisters?
Reinaldo Marcus Green: That you can make good movie [laughs]. It’s not easy making these things, as a lot of things have to go into the filmmaking process. This movie, it all came together – the cast, the crew, the people who all work behind the scenes and don’t usually get the credit. It’s a wonderful film and it’s something I see people are really enjoying.
What was it like working with Will Smith not only on camera but behind the camera, too?
Amazing. Nobody works harder. For me as a director, to have your actor putting in the prep time, the mileage. He devoted himself to the role, was as giving off screen as he was onscreen. To the entire crew. Will Smith is that special. He is everything that is advertised.
How do you feel about awards, in general? With your film up for best picture at the Oscars, how does that affect you?
The matter, of course. If they didn’t matter, we wouldn’t show up at these awards shows. You work hard. Even I remember playing baseball as a kid, getting these small trophies, they matter. Whether it meant for your participation as a timestamp on your life. People are devoted to making these things for years, for someone else’s enjoyment for an hour and a half or two hours, for enjoyment. It is absolutely important to share these moments and we’re already here, we’re at the big dance, so we’ll see what happens.
Why is it important to share the Williams’ story about their climb to success from Compton to tennis champions, why tell that story now?
Truth and authenticity. You don’t know when the right time for anything is. If you do it with your heart, an open heart, and people will be receptive to it.
Next up, you’re directing We Own This City, a series about corruption in Baltimore, based on a nonfiction book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, which is out on HBO.
If you try to tell an authentic story, from the people in Baltimore, it’s their story, not ours. I’ve always taken that approach to my filmmaking. It’s an extension of their voice. If they can be heard, it’s important to have them heard, now, more than ever. So many cities around this world and country are dealing with these issues that we can’t sense. It’s up to us to make sense of it.