Will Smith will star in the upcoming Netflix biopic The Council about legendary New York City drug lord Nicky Barnes, the streaming giant announced Tuesday.
Barnes partnered with the Italian-American Mafia in the 1970s to form an international drug trafficking ring, until his arrest in 1978.
The Council will center on the crime syndicate Barnes co-founded, consisting of seven African-American men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and early 80s, and explore “the Shakespearean court intrigue between The Council’s king, Nicky Barnes, dubbed ‘Mr. Untouchable’ by the New York Times, and all the different members as one unlikely rising protégé emerges,” Netflix said in a press release.
Barnes was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but later became a federal informant, leading to the fall of The Council. Upon his release in 1998, he was placed in the witness protection program. Barnes died in 2012, but his death didn’t become public knowledge until this year.
Smith and James Lassiter are producing the film for Westbrook Inc.’s Overbrook Entertainment, along with Jackson Pictures’ Matt Jackson and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies.
Peter Landesman, who wrote the script for Smith’s 2015 film Concussion, will pen the script for The Council. Landesman will also serve as an executive producer, along with Jackson Pictures’ Joanne Lee and David Lee for Anonymous Nobodies.
Cuba Gooding Jr. played Barnes in the 2007 film American Gangster, which focused on Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington.