Exceptionally bankable movie star Will Smith is taking a well-deserved break form anchoring box office poison like After Earth to return to more serious, Seven Pounds-ish fare. Variety is reporting that Smith is currently in talks to star in the previously reported, Ridley Scott-produced film based on “Game Brain,” an explosive 2009 GQ article that helped kickstart the conversation about the NFL’s problem with player concussions.
“Game Day” told the story of Bennett Omalu, an African-born, Pittsburgh neuroscientist who first diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—a degenerative brain disease typified by aggression, dementia, memory loss, and depression—in NFL Hall of Famer Mike Webster. As Pennsylvania’s de facto favorite son, Smith is a natural choice for the role of Omalu.
Parkland’s Peter Landesman is attached to write and direct the project, which is being set up as “a whistleblower tale in the vein of The Insider”—so expect lots of shots of Smith-as-Omalu framed against steely bluish backdrops, agonizing over whether to blow the helmet off pro sports, all while being intimidated by linebacker-thick corporate bullies protecting their own interests, and maybe even literal linebackers.