Will Smith‘s relationship with Netflix continues. Although Bright was a major critical disappointment, Netflix claimed it was one of the most heavily watched films in their history. Smith still reportedly draws in the big crowds. So it’s unsurprising to learn that he will star in another Netflix movie. This one is a crime drama titled The Council.
Smith will play notorious New York City crime boss Nicky Barnes. Peter Landesman – who previously worked with Smith on Concussion – has written the script, which delves into the true story of a crime syndicate consisting of seven black men who ruled Harlem in the late 70s and early 80s. The men dreamed of a self-sufficient and self-policing African American city-state, funded by revolutionising the drug game.
Barnes was the all-powerful kingpin, leading an international drug trafficking ring in partnership with the Italian-American Mafia until his arrest in 1978. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The movie will revolve around the “Shakespearean court intrigue” between Barnes – dubbed ‘Mr. Untouchable’ by the New York Times – and the different members of the group, as one unlikely rising protégé emerges.
The name Barnes may ring a bell even to those not well-versed in NYC crime circa 1970s. Barnes was the chief rival to Frank Lucas, the main character in Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster. He was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. there.
This is potentially a very exciting role for Smith to take on. He’s always pretty much been the squeaky clean protagonist his whole career. The chance to get his hands dirty with a complex role like this is something his career really needs.
He famously turned down the leading role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained because of potential controversy toward his family-friendly image, but obviously priorities have changed, or perhaps the industry simply has. Either way, for those bemoaning that Smith has taken on lazy, cash-grab roles in recent years, this news is a breath of fresh air.
Attention now turns to who Smith – who is also producing – taps to direct the project. He recently hired Monsters And Men director Reinaldo Marcus-Green to helm King Richard, the film about Venus and Serena Williams in which Smith plays their father. That’s the kind of cool, under-the-radar hire that might indicate Smith may have his finger on the pulse of the filmmaking community more than most think.
Perhaps The Council will benefit from an equally interesting directorial higher. Or perhaps some even bigger names will be drawn to a potentially exciting project like this. We’ll wait and see.
Smith will next be seen in a dual role in Ang Lee‘s thriller Gemini Man, which hits cinemas Friday, October 11. He’s also got Bad Boys For Life arriving in January.