Will Smith to Star in Nicky Barnes Mafia Movie

Will Smith has fought the scum of the universe, a spider-loving paraplegic from the wild west, a horde of vampires, a swarm of robots, and in a few weeks, he’ll be fighting himself in Gemini Man. But soon enough he’ll take on some rival crime syndicates as the boss of one of the most notorious mobs in New York City.

Netflix has landed Will Smith to star in The Council, a movie based on the true story of Nicky Barnes, the boss of a crime syndicate made up of seven black men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to revolutionizing the drug dealing game by partnering with Italian mafia. Find out more about the Nicky Barnes mafia movie below.

Collider has word on The Council being set up at Netflix with a script from Peter Landesman, who wrote the Will Smith dramatic vehicle Concussion and will also executive produce. Smith will be producing with his Overbrook Entertainment partner James Lassiter along with Matt Jackson of Jackson Pictures and Jason Essex of Anonymous Nobodies; they’ll also be joined by executive producers Joanne Lee and David Lee.

The New York Times describes Nicky Barnes as “the notorious de facto incarnation of Ron O’Neal in Gordon Parks Jr.’s 1972 film Super Fly.” The newspaper says he was “the flamboyant dope peddler who flooded Harlem and other black neighborhoods with heroin, led cops on frivolous 100 m.p.h. car chases and redefined bling.” Barnes was called “Mr. Untouchable” since the cops never seemed to be able to pin anything on him, despite his reputation.

Eventually, he wasn’t so untouchable and ended up prosecuted in a wide-ranging drug conspiracy case and got sentenced to life in prison. But just a few years into his sentence, he turned government informant and went into witness protection, and only recently were details of his death revealed because of that.

If the name Nicky Barnes sounds familiar, that’s because he was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. as the rival of Frank Lucas, the black mobster portrayed by Denzel Washington in Ridley Scott’s 2007 movie American Gangster. If we get a Will Smith performance along those same lines, then count me in. Smith has long avoided playing bad guys on film, even going so far as to turn down Django Unchained because the titular character was a little too vengeful and violent for his tastes. So hopefully Smith cuts loose and really unleashes some anger as this ruthless but fly gangster, and maybe we’ll even see him get pushed for an Oscar.

As of now, it sounds like The Council still needs a director, so hopefully we’ll hear more about this project soon.

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