Will Smith Lands First Post-Slap Role: Producing Paramount’s ‘Brilliance’

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Updated, September 20 at 6:55pm ET: Paramount confirmed the following news to IndieWire via email.

Published earlier: Will Smith is set to produce an adaptation of the novel “Brilliance,” with two-time Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy making her narrative feature directorial debut.

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Four-time Emmy winner Obaid-Chinoy most recently helmed Episodes 4 and 5 of Disney+ series “Ms. Marvel.” The adaptation of Marcus Sakey’s novel is produced by Paramount Pictures and has been dubbed a “passion project” for Oscar winner Smith and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who collaborated on “I, Robot,” “I Am Legend,” and “Hancock.”

The book centers on Nick Cooper, a federal agent who works for the Department of Analysis and Response and is tasked with tracking down the 1 percent of non-neurotypical people deemed “abnorms,” or “Brilliants,” who are born with special powers. The character Nick is a parent of a Brilliant daughter and is also an abnorm himself, in a “Blade Runner”-esque twist. He has the ability to see the future and ultimately tries to stop a civil war.

Smith is producing the film through his company Westbrook Studios with Jon Mone and Ryan Shimazaki. Screenwriter Goldsman and Greg Lessans are producing via Weed Road Pictures, along with Shane Salerno via The Story Factory, and James Lassiter. Author Marcus Sackey, who wrote the “Brilliance” novel, is also serving as a co-producer. Sackey also penned sequel novels “A Better World” and “Written in Fire,” opening the door for a possible film trilogy.

Director Obaid-Chinoy previously helmed Academy Award-winning documentary shorts “Saving Face” and “A Girl in the River.”

Smith’s post-Oscars slap career has proven to be on hold after the Best Actor winner was banned from the Academy after assaulting presenter Chris Rock onstage. Smith issued an apology. His AppleTV+ film “Emancipation,” directed by Antoine Fuqua and a once hoped-for awards contender, is rumored to be released this December. No release date has been confirmed.

“Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work,” the “King Richard” star said in onscreen text during an apology video in July 2022. Smith said he was “fogged out” at the Oscars after attacking Rock.

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