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Jon Bernthal Had One Fear Playing King Richard's Rick Macci - Here's How He Beat It

Though Will Smith's infamous Oscar slap has taken up much of the conversation about the star following his Best Actor Oscar win for "King Richard," it sometimes feels a bit unfair. After all, the biopic is easily one of the best sports movies to emerge in recent years, and it tells a story that's both touching and inspirational while never shying away from the more morally murky elements of real events.

One of the many real-life people who is depicted in "King Richard" is tennis coach Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal). The actor spoke to Awards Radar about the daunting task of taking on the role in the film and the greatest challenge he saw in trying to embody the spirit of Macci in the sports drama, and it rose from a somewhat practical place, acting wise.

"With the dialect, there's a fear there," Bernthal said. "He doesn't really talk like anyone else. He almost sounds like that part of eastern Ohio and Kentucky. The dialect almost sounds like five other dialects squashed together. And so I really wanted to get it right," the actor explained.

Getting the voice and accent right was Bernthal's primary focus

Jon Bernthal explained that once he got the accent nailed down, there wasn't much more that he was worried about with regard to playing Rick Macci. "I think once you combine the physicality with a dialect, it is that kind of like outside in," he said. "You throw in the costume, the hair, and the mustache, and you've got something that you can show up on set with."

It also sounds like Bernthal really wanted to make sure that he respected the legacy of a coach like Macci. The actor even mentioned speaking with Serena Williams to get an inside track on the man and how she felt about her time playing for him. "When I talked to Serena Williams on the phone, Serena told me that playing for Rick Macci was one of the funnest times of her life," the performer recalled. "So to play a guy that was just so fun, I had to jump at it."

Bernthal also mentioned how getting the authenticity of being an athlete down was so important to both he and director Reinaldo Marcus Green as they were both ex-athletes themselves and had spent time in that world. "I thought it explored the full spectrum of youth sports in all its toxicity and all of its beauty."