Will Smith asked if the attendee was okay after their panel was interrupted when someone poured a drink on her at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Will Smith lightened the mood after a confrontation happened in a film festival crowd while he was speaking onstage. During day five of the 37th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Sunday, the actor, 53, and his King Richard costar Aunjanue Ellis discussed their movie and accepted the outstanding performer of the year award.
In the middle of their live conversation, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, a scuffle broke out in the audience, prompting the stars to pause and see if everything was okay. “Is she okay?” asked Smith as he held a hand up to block the stage lights and look into the crowd.
A woman in attendance shouted an explanation, saying someone “totally just poured a drink on us because we said, ‘This is f—–g amazing.’ Apparently we’re being too loud. But we love you, Will.”
Smith then joked to Ellis, “That’s why it’s really important to have white audiences, ’cause that would have gone very differently at either place where we grew up. So I wanna commend the white people for how y’all handled that. You wanna act out the scene, how it would’ve been if someone poured a drink on you?”
As the audience laughed, Ellis, 53, pretended to take off her earrings and heels as if she were getting ready for a fight. Then, trying to get back on track, Smith said with a laugh, “You’re not gonna make it back from that, Scott! You can try.” Smith and Ellis both received Oscar nominations this year for playing husband and wife Richard Williams and Oracene Williams, the parents of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.
Ellis recently told the Los Angeles Times about portraying the real-life matriarch of the sports family and setting out to show what Oracene would “want the world to know about her experience.”
“People see her in the stands but they don’t know her. Nobody knows that she was their coach … but she was. So I just wanted to speak as well as I could for her and feel okay about it when I was done,” Ellis said, adding of Oracene’s reaction to the movie, “She said, ‘Great job.’ Just two words. But that was enough for me.”
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