The Hollywood Reporter has brought word that the upcoming Netflix crime biopic The Council, based on the life of Harlem mobster Nicky Barnes, has found its star in the form of Oscar nominee Will Smith (Aladdin, Gemini Man).
The film, which is being scripted by Peter Landesman (Concussion), will tell the story of an organized crime syndicate made up of seven black mobsters in 1970s Harlem who dreamed of a self-sufficient African-American city-state that was funded by the up-and-coming drug game. The tone of the biopic is being described as a “Shakespearean court intrigue” between the head of the syndicate, Nicky Barnes, who was dubbed by The New York Times as “Mr. Untouchable,” and the rest of the Council.
Barnes, who partnered with the Italian mafia in hopes of starting his own syndicate and specialized in the heroin trade leading up to his arrest in 1978 and eventual turning on the Council as a federal informant. The former mobster would enter the witness protection program after bringing the Council down and lived in hiding until his passing in 2012, which wasn’t revealed until earlier this year.
Smith has signed on to both portray Barnes, as well as produce with James Lassiter through their banner Overbrook Entertainment, alongside Matt Jackson for Jackson Pictures and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies, while Landesman, Joanne Lee and David Lee executive producing.
No director is currently attached to the project, but given Smith’s involvement with the biopic, it’s safe to assume that the streaming service will try and fast track the search for someone to helm the project and bring the veteran actor back their library after starring in the hit 2017 crime fantasy Bright. The actor is still signed on to star in its sequel, but production has been delayed on the project due to his busy schedule.
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