Will Smith to portray Nicky Barnes in ‘The Council’

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Will Smith is set to portray crime boss Nicky Barns in Netflix’s upcoming film The Council. 

The drama centers on a crime syndicate consisting of seven African-American men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and early 80s with the goal of establishing a self-sufficient and self-policing African American city-state, funded by revolutionizing the drug game. It explores the Shakespearean court intrigue in the council between Barnes and a rising protege.

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This won’t be the first time we have seen A-list actors taking on the role of Nicky Barnes. Cuba Gooding, Jr. played the same character in 2007’s American Gangster and he was also the inspiration for Wesley Snipes‘ infamous New Jack City character, Nino Brown in 1991. 

According to Variety, the real-life Barnes partnered with the Italian-American Mafia on international drug distribution until his arrest in 1978. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and became a federal informant under the witness protection program. Barnes died in 2012 but his death did not become known until this year.

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Will Smith and James Lassiter will produce the film for Westbrook Inc.’s Overbrook Entertainment, along with Jackson Pictures’ Matt Jackson and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies.

We can’t wait to see what Smith does with the role, as it’s a pretty big departure from some of his most recent work.