Will Smith to Star in Crime Biopic 'The Council' for Netflix

Will Smith - Getty-H 2019
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Peter Landesman wrote the script for the film about Nicky Barnes, the Harlem-based mobster who was dubbed "Mr. Untouchable."

Will Smith, just weeks away from opening his sci-fi action movie Gemini Man, is heading back to Netflix.

The actor has signed on to star in and produce The Council, a crime biopic written by Peter Landesman. The two previously worked together when Smith starred in Concussion, the 2015 drama Landesman wrote and directed.

Smith will produce with James Lassiter, his partner at Overbrook Entertainment, now under the umbrella of Smith’s Westbrook Inc. Also producing are Matt Jackson via Jackson Pictures and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies.

The Council aims to tell the story of an organized crime syndicate run by seven black mobsters who operated in Harlem in the 1970s. The men dreamed of a self-sufficient and self-policing African-American city-state, funded by revolutionizing the drug game.

Netflix is describing the story as centering on the Shakespearean court intrigue between the council’s king, Nicky Barnes, dubbed “Mr. Untouchable” by The New York Times, and all the different members of the council.

Smith will play Barnes, the man who partnered with the Italian Mafia to start his own syndicate, specializing in the heroin trade. He was arrested in 1978 and, after a series of incidents, turned on the council by becoming a federal informant. He was in the witness protection program and, though he died in 2012, his death was only reported this year.

Executive producing the project are Landesman, Jackson Pictures’ Joanne Lee and David Lee for Anonymous Nobodies.

No director is yet on board.

Smith, who previously starred in the $1 billion-grossing Aladdin remake, toplined one of Netflix's early feature hits, the 2017 sci-fi fantasy Bright, directed by David Ayers. He and Overbrook are repped by CAA and Sloan Offer.

CAA and Jackoway Tyerman negotiated on behalf of Landesman. Jackson is repped by CAA and Manatt Phelps.