A role intended for Will Smith may be going to Academy Award–winning actor Denzel Washington. New York magazine’s Vulture reports that Smith may have finally gained traction in his project based on the real-life tale of an ex-marine who sought to save New Orleans residents during Hurricane Katrina.
The story was originally told in the documentary New Orleans: My Home, My Life, My Love. The new movie will still be developed by Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment. The working title of the film is The American Can. The script for the movie will be written by John Lee Hancock, who will do double duty as the film's director, similar to his roles on The Blind Side.
The drama will be centered on the ordeal suffered by the residents of the American Can apartment complex, who were put in harm’s way once the levees broke. The complex dwellers were trapped by 11 feet of fetid water for two days. A six-foot-seven ex-Marine named John Keller stayed behind to ward off looters and help care for the dozens of aged or sickly residents who couldn’t evacuate. Initially, Keller faced hardships in trying to flag down people for help. He was finally able to do so after moving dozens of white residents onto the rooftop of the American Can apartment building to catch rescue workers’ attention.
Smith had planned to star as Keller himself, however Vulture says that his role in M. Night Shymalan’s One Thousand A.E. conflicts with The American Can's production schedule. A source told them that Smith now wants Denzel Washington for the role of the hero.
(Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty)