Two-time Academy Award nominee, Will Smith, may have found the project that will finally win him that elusive Oscar. According to our inside source, The Hollywood Cog, Smith is set to produce and star in Flowers for Algernon, a modern-day adaptation of the Daniel Keyes’ novel. The movie is being set up at Sony Pictures and Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, along with Polksy Films. Tracy Nyberg, an associate producer on Hancock and an assistant to Will Smith on I Am Legend, is also set to produce.
Flowers for Algernon has been adapted several times since it was originally published in 1959, most famously Ralph Nelson’s Charly, which won Cliff Robertson an Academy Award in 1969. The short story (and the subsequent novel) is about Charlie, a mentally retarded man who is the first human test subject for an experimental surgery that artificially increases intelligence. The experiment had already been performed successfully on Algernon, a lab mouse. Charlie’s newfound intelligence (his IQ skyrockets from 68 to 185), however, comes at the cost of his ability to socialize normally, as he becomes increasingly alienated from those around him. Emotional consequences are involved when Charlie learns the truth of the experiment.
The project seems ideal for Smith, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performances in Ali and Pursuit of Happyness. Smith will bring his populist appeal to yet another Oscar contender.
Smith has several other projects currently in development, including an American remake of Oldboy, potential sequels to Hancock and I, Robot, in addition to a prequel to I Am Legend. No word on where Flowers for Algernon will fall into Smith’s filming schedule, but I’d expect the project to be fast-tracked, once a director comes aboard. And though no director has been announced, Smith’s Happyness and Seven Pounds collaborator, Gabriele Muccino, seems a likely candidate.