The Big Willie machine is amping up again with news tonight that Will Smith is in final negotiations to star in the con artist pic Focus.
While Smith appears to be joining the project, Kristen Stewart who was also slated to star in the film dropped out when the Fresh Prince expressed interest in the lead. Reportedly, Stewart felt that the age difference between the two (Smith 44 – Stewart 23) would be too large a gap to overcome.
After thinking about the film for some time, Smith agreed to joining the cast.
Focus tells the story of an inexperienced female con artist who teams up with a more seasoned male one. The film is written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) who originally wrote the story as a vehicle to reteam Crazy Stupid Love co-stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for the leads, but when Gosling’s schedule could not be worked out, the studio began looking at other candidates.
While Warner Bros. loves the script but knew it would be tough to greenlight without a top-tier actor, so it began courting leads such as Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. Affleck came close but earlier commitments got in the way.
Smith has spent several months considering his next project. Though he has several sequels in development, it appears he was looking for something new and original.
Sources say he had considered making Hurricane Katrina pic The American Can, which he had been previously linked to, his next film, and that Warners had also approached him for The Accountant.
Smith, who can next be seen in Sony’s “After Earth,” opening this summer.