Los Angeles, Jun 16 (PTI) Hollywood star Will Smith is set to play the lead role in slavery thriller 'Emancipation' to be directed by Antoine Fuqua.
William N Collage has penned the script, reported Deadline.
The period film is based on the true story of Peter, a slave on a Louisiana plantation, owned by John and Bridget Lyons. During his time at the plantation he received a brutal whipping by one of the overseers that almost killed him.
Peter managed to run away to the north and join the Union Army. When Peter showed Army doctors his back during a medical examination, they took photos of his scars, and one photo known as “the scourged back” was published by The Independent in May 1863, and later by Harper Weekly in its July 4 issue.
The photo got circulated around the world and was held up as proof of the cruelty of slavery in America. It also prompted many free blacks to join the Union Army in order to fight racists in the south.
Smith will also produce the project with his Westbrook Studios partners James Lassiter and Jon Mone. Joey McFarland of McFarland Entertainment and Todd Black of Escape Artists are also attached as producers.
The director believes Smith was the perfect choice to play the lead role as he enjoys going deep into the subject.
“I haven’t seen this film, this character, before. Will Smith is perfect for it. He has all the qualities to do it. He’s at a place in his life where, we know Will’s charming and a talented actor, and that he’s physical, and we’ve seen him go really deep in other films.
'When I sat down with Will, we both talked about taking our skill sets to another level for this one, and giving ourselves completely to it in an honest and fair, true way,” said Fuqua.
Smith’s casting as a runaway slave comes almost a decade after he passed on the title role in Quentin Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained”. PTI SHD RDS RDS