Will Smith is in talks to star in Ridley Scott’s upcoming NFL drama, currently untitled. Will he be doing a Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson style coach role or starring as a player/retired player? Neither actually.
Will Smith is thought to be in talks to play Dr. Omalu, a researcher who discovered CTE in the brain of a dead football player
Smith has opted more for the action/drama end of things over the years, rather than taking the sports route. Staying true to the sort of characters he has played in the past, the Pursuit of Happiness actor won’t be taking on the role of a sportsman, instead he’ll be playing forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, the first researcher to discover Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of a football player.
So, what’s the plot of Ridley Scott’s football drama going to be? The story will be based on the GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Laskas wrote Game Brain back in 2009 and in it looks into Dr. Omalu’s discovery of CTE in a football player. CTE is a degenerative brain disease brought on by head trauma that is only discoverable post mortem. CTE has affected several football players later in life who either ended up dying from the condition or were unable to cope with the pain it caused them and committing suicide.
Interesting, yes, but a riveting film premise? We’re not convinced. Although Scott’s focus for the story is much more movie-worthy. Apparently the plot will focus on the fact that the NHL suppressed Omalu’s findings and continually intimidated and threatened him as well as attempted to discredit him and his research. It’s claimed that they even lied to former football players who had been trying to discover the truth behind why their health was so quickly deteriorating. The players eventually brought up a lawsuit against the NFL who were eventually offered a $765 million settlement. However, the UK district judge rejected the offer who argued the compensation was inadequate for the 20,000 involved in the suit.
The new drama film will be made by Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free Productions
The script will be written by Peter Landesman, who will also direct the film for Ridley Scott’s production company Scott Free Productions. Landesman was the writer and director behind Parkland, the President Kennedy drama film. Will Smith’s recent departure from sci-fi drama Brilliance must have been welcome news to Scott and Landesman and he sounds like the right guy for the role. He’s got his serious face on in a few roles and we have a vision of him getting all I Am Legend emotional in this film. Smith is a great actor and this role sounds like it's serious enough to earn him some Academy recognition. Could this be the film that lands Will Smith his first Oscars nomination, and, dare we say it...win? Perhaps that's what he's thinking too and why he dropped out of Brilliance? Just sayin'.