It’s strange to think that Will Smith hasn’t headlined a picture since the underperforming Seven Pounds hit theaters back in 2008. He’ll be back in Men in Black 3 next year, and is attached to headline a handful of upcoming movies – one of the more intriguing films being that of Joe, a contemporary take on the Book of Job.

Screenwriting duo Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy may not have landed an Oscar for their efforts on The Fighter, but their Hollywood card is definitely on the rise. The two were responsible for scripting Joe, and are hoping to work again with director David O. Russell on the project.

Johnson and Tamasy were on the Movie B.S. podcast yesterday and mentioned that their Joe screenplay has already been purchased by Sony, with Smith in line to star. Here’s how the pair described their script:

“It’s about a man (Smith) [who is living] the American dream. He’s got the nice house, white picket fence, great kids, great wife, nice cars. God and the Devil get together every thousand years to bet on a man’s life, and the fate of the world is at stake.”

“What all of us get hit with in a lifetime, this man gets hit with in one week. And it’s about whether or not he can still pick himself up from that and survive it. It’s a dramedy. At its heart, it’s a comedy – but it’s got, obviously, a real dramatic core to it.”

Michael Stuhlbarg in ‘A Serious Man’.

The Coen Brothers devised their own, off-kilter version of Job’s tale of woe back in 2009 with A Serious Man, and it’s likely that Joe will take a similarly bleak but comedic approach to the story. Granted, the Will Smith vehicle is unlikely to be as distinctly warped as what the Coens came up with, but dark humor and characters whose lives were full of general discord were both very much big parts of The Fighter – and that should also hold true for Joe.

While Joe aims to be the latest Smith vehicle that showcases the megastar’s dramatic chops – with previous attempts including Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Shark Tale (yes, kidding on the last one) – he won’t be hanging up his blockbuster card anytime soon. Smith is also currently attached to the Wachowskis’ Robin Hood re-imagining, Hood, and The Legend of Cain, another biblical tale retold (this time with vampires, believe it or not).

Russell is still deciding on what his followup to The Fighter will be, and he’s attached or connected in some form to numerous upcoming pics, including Uncharted, 2 Guns, and Cocaine Cowboys, among others. Joe could be a nice fit for the director, and the darkly comical subject matter (which will almost certainly include relationship dysfunction, a Russell specialty) seems right up his alley. He’ll have to decide on a new project sooner or later, so stay tuned for a future announcement on the matter.

Smith is currently waiting for the Men in Black threequel to resume from its extended production hiatus, and it’s not all that clear when he’ll make time to star in Joe, regardless of who ends up directing. The story of a decent man who finds that the universe itself is (literally) conspiring against him is one that many people can relate to, and having someone as charismatic as Smith play Joe is a solid idea in its own right.

We’ll keep you posted on the development of Joe as more information is released.

Source: Movie B.S. (via Collider)