When Will Smith unexpectedly dropped out of Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures’ Brilliance, the studios were left scrambling to find a replacement. For a while, that replacement appeared to be Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), who had been approached by the studios and, according to some sources, was keenly interested in the project. Now, according to Nikki Finke, however, Leto has opted to walk away from the film.
Finke, formerly of Deadline, reports that Leto met with director Julius Onah on Monday before deciding to turn down the lead role. For now, Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is the only actor attached to the project.
Brilliance, based on the book of the same name by Marcus Sakey, takes place in a world where one percent of the population are born with heightened cognitive abilities and called ‘brilliants.’ Leto would have starred as Nick Cooper, a federal agent who uses his special abilities to catch the world’s most dangerous terrorists. When Cooper gets on the trail of his most dangerous target yet, a violent brilliant who is intent on igniting a civil war, he finds himself thrown into moral indecision and contemplates going against everything he believes in, including his own kind.
Sakey’s book, which hits stores last August, is the first of a planned trilogy, so it’s not too difficult to see that Legendary and Universal are eying a franchise with Brilliance. Leto was probably turned off by the idea of signing on for multiple films, as Dallas Buyers Club was his first movie in five years and the actor is also part of the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
The premise for Brilliance definitely sounds intriguing (though it does seem a little bit too X-Men-esque for its own good), so hopefully Legendary and Universal will be able to lock in a leading man within the next few weeks.
When we hear of a new replacement, we’ll be sure to let you know.
Source: Nikki Finke