Will Smith In Talks To Chase A Terrorist For Universal's Sci-Fi Thriller Brilliance

Hot off a supporting role in Akiva Goldsman’s Winter’s Tale – or maybe I should say "cold" considering the movie takes place in winter and is being frozen out of the box office – Will Smith could be headed back to the sci-fi genre for Brilliance, Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ upcoming adaptation of the 2013 Edgar Award nominated novel from author Marcus Sakey. Unlike most of the star's previous genre efforts, which have mainly seen him pummeling and blasting aliens, he’ll be going after something equally dangerous in the new film - but much more human.

These are early talks, and TheWrap couldn’t get a confirmation from either the studios or Smith’s reps, but it’s possible they had some kind of a superhuman keeping communication down. The world of Brilliance is one where around 1% of the population are born with exceptional mental and physical abilities, such as mind reading and invisibility. And these people are dubbed Brilliants by the general public.

Should he take the role, Smith would play Nick Cooper, a federal agent whose own set of gifts makes it easy for him to hunt down terrorists. His latest case puts him against what is possibly the most dangerous man in the world, and Cooper has to turn his back on everything he stands for in order to take the guy out

Sakey, who published his novel through Amazon imprint Thomas and Mercer, has another two books planned for this series, with the next one set to come out later this year. It was almost a year ago when the studios tapped David Koepp to write the screenplay, and he’s had some luck in starting franchises, having co-written Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man. The untested variable in this equation is director Julius Onah, who has a selection of acclaimed shorts to his name and has spent the last year developing the sci-fi thriller God Particle for J.J. Abrams and Paramount Pictures, though nothing solid has become of that.

Smith’s involvement no longer means that this will be an instant hit. His star has faded over the years, with an extended hiatus and M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth making it easy to forget that Men in Black 3 was pretty good. He’s got Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s con comedy Focus coming up, and Brilliance could be the franchise that may make up for his all but confirmed absence from the next two Independence Day movies.

Regardless of his onscreen roles, Smith has always been a jovial and funny guy outside of film and TV, and proved it once again a few days ago when he showed up for the premiere episode of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to run through the evolution of hip-hop dance moves. Check out the awkwardly non-timeless hilarity below.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.