Let’s all go back in time to the year 1995, when pre-production began on Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, the film that would turn popular rapper Will Smith into an international superstar. Can you possibly imagine what kind of madness would have occurred if he had dropped out of that film, only to be replaced by Jared Leto, who had just wrapped his run as heartthrob Jared Catalano on the short-lived MTV drama My So-Called Life? (Alternately, what if Will Smith was in Requiem for a Dream?) In any case, that particular actor substitution is currently in the works for Legendary Pictures’ big-budget thriller Brilliance, as Leto is currently in talks to take over the role vacated by Smith at the end of last month.
Leto is not the go-to name when it comes to genre flicks, especially after the massive success he has enjoyed following his superb return to acting in Jean-Marc Vallée’s AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club. Considering he took home the Best Supporting Actor award at the Academy Awards earlier this year for his role as the transgendered Rayon, one would normally assume that his next project would be soaked in prestige and awards buzz. Now, I’m not saying there’s a complete lack of critical depth for a Heroes-ish novel adaptation about superpowers gone wrong, but I’m thinking it loudly.
Of course, Leto hasn’t actually signed on yet, as he’s quite particular about the roles he takes. As Deadline reports, he only just met on Monday with director Julius Onah, who directed the 2012 thriller The Girl is in Trouble. This would be Leto’s first post-Dallas Buyers Club role, and only his second movie in the last five years, following 2009’s sci-fi brain-muddler Mr. Nobody.
Should he join the party, Leto would team up with Prometheus star Noomi Rapace, who signed on to the Universal release some months back. Based on the novel by Marcus Sakey—the first in the Brilliance saga–the David Koepp-scripted story follows Nick Cooper, a federal agent who is highly skilled in tracking and taking down “brilliants,” the one percent of the population that have been born with amazing powers. Cooper’s talents in the field are the product of his own extraordinary capabilities, and he uses everything he knows to track down a terrorist brilliant who is intent on bringing the country to its knees in a massive civil war. It’s a basic story that has been told a zillion times before, but it’ll be interesting to see how Onah and his creative team differentiate themselves from the glut of comic book movies clogging up cinemas.
Do you guys think Leto has what it takes to lead an action-centric movie, or will he get his ass handed to him like he did in Fight Club?