"What if 'The Matrix' Starred Will Smith?"
Still from “What if ‘The Matrix’ Starred Will Smith?”

Will Smith is in negotiations to star in Skydance Media’s Gemini Man sci-fi actioner “Gemini Man,” which Ang Lee is also in negotiations to direct.

The project, which is being produced by Smith’s “Bad Boys” and “Enemy of the State” super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, has been at various stages of development for about a decade now and just may finally get the push it needs should Smith and Lee both reach agreements to star and direct.

The intriguing story centers on an aging assassin who finds himself in a battle with his ultimate opponent: his clone, who is 25 years younger, and at the peak of his abilities.

According to The Hollywood Reporter (who broke the news of Smith being in negotiations to star), the project was first set up at Disney in 1997 with the late Tony Scott directing, but was shelved and was considered “unfilmable” for several years because “visual effects technology had not caught up to the concept.” Initially, the plan was to have 2 different actors play the younger and the older assassin, but it was eventually decided that it would be cooler if the same actor played both parts, obviously meaning that the actor cast would need made visibly younger – and convincingly so – with the aid of computer tech. A question is whether the technology to make this work seamlessly is now finally here. Apparently Skydance seems to think so.

The script is said to have been reworked many times over the last 10 years, and screen tests have been done with available technology each time, with actors including Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood previously considered for the lead.

But should all work out for everyone involved, this could very well be a return to form for Will Smith (after a string of dramatic, seemingly Oscar-bait roles that weren’t fully embraced by his fans), potentially working again with a producer he’s had much success with before, in a “high concept” sci-fi/action-adventure movie, where he’s also been mostly successful, with maybe the icing on the cake being that it could be directed by a filmmaker with a solid resume and lots of awards season hardware to show for his work.

Most recently, we announced that Smith was also in negotiations to play the Genie in Disney’s live-action “Aladdin.” He’ll next be seen this December in Netflix’s fantasy/crime drama “Bright,” directed by David Ayer.