Crazy, Stupid, Love directors Glenn Ficarre and John Requa were hoping to work again with leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on a heist-comedy titled Focus, but scheduling didn’t work out and the filmmakers ended up casting Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart instead; now, both those actors have left the project, and Will Smith has entered talks to come aboard.
Affleck dropped Focus in order to… uh, focus his attention on writing, directing and starring in the Dennis Lehane novel adaptation Live by Night. As for Stewart, the Twilight actress reportedly exited the project sometime over the past few weeks, perhaps to prepare for her role in The Big Shoe (since the only other major project on her docket, the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, is a ways off from beginning production in the near future).
THR is reporting that Smith has entered talks to take the Focus role that Gosling and Affleck were eyed for, which is a seasoned con man who becomes romantically involved with a novice – the role that Stone and Stewart were in line for – just as he encounters an old flame, while preparing to execute his most elaborate job yet (perhaps the coveted “one last job,” in fact).
Smith returned from a four-year acting break last year in Men in Black III, and is headed back to the big screen this June in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. He’ll appear in Winter’s Tale thereafter, and is attached to numerous projects that are stuck in early development right now, so there’s a reasonable chance he’ll sign on for Focus and help get the movie into theaters by sometime next year.
Focus would be a change of pace for Smith, after him making so many big-budget tentpoles that fall within the action, sci-fi and comedy genres (often a combination of the three); not to mention, it sounds as though the central role ought to play to his strengths as an actor with a charismatic and magnetic screen personality.
The script was written by Ficarre and Requa, who also scripted Bad Santa and both wrote and directed I Love You Phillip Morris together, so the film should offer Will a chance to explore the kind of sardonic comedy and comical satire material that he’s not properly tried his hand at before. Sound good to you?
More on Focus as the story develops.