Blowback Begins as Will Smith’s Netflix Film is Reportedly Put On Ice

Two of the actor’s film projects are reportedly in a state of flux days after the stunning moment when the star walked onto the stage and struck Chris Rock.

The blowback from Will Smith’s shocking on-stage attack on Chris Rock at last week’s Academy Awards ceremony may now be chipping away at the newly-minted Oscar-winner’s career, as reports have emerged that the development of the star’s upcoming Netflix film has been put on the rocks and signs may be emerging that his anticipated Apple TV project could be in trouble.

Within five days of the stunning moment when Smith swaggered onto the Oscars stage in front of Hollywood’s elite—not to mention a global TV audience—and struck Rock across the face as he was about to present the prize for Best Documentary Feature, multiple projects attached to the actor suddenly have questionable futures.

The brutal onstage slap came after Rock made a questionable G.I. Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, the King Richard Best Actor’s wife, who had shaved her head after revealing she has alopecia. According to reports late last week in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, Netflix put Smith’s upcoming crime boss-memory loss thriller, Fast and Loose, on its production schedule back-burner.

THR’s report on the Fast and Loose slowdown comes just after the film’s anticipated director, David Leitch, bowed out of the project in the days before the Oscar ceremony, having been courted to helm the upcoming Ryan Gosling-led Fall Guy at Universal instead.

The Deadpool 2 director and former Hollywood stuntman may have had the best timing of his career by exiting Fast and Loose ahead of Oscar night, as Netflix now seems to have pretty cold feet about backing a big-budget project with Smith—now, at best, a lightning rod for controversy and, at worst, radioactive in Hollywood—as the film’s lead. 

Meanwhile, Apple declined to comment when asked last week by THR about the status of Smith’s upcoming slave escape drama, Emancipation, which was slated for a 2022 release but still has no date scheduled on the platform. The film, by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, stars Smith as an enslaved man who escapes into the swamps of Louisiana and then joins the Union Army. Smith produced the film via his and Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Inc multimedia company; it is now in post-production. 

Also unclear is the fate of the planned fourth installment of the Bad Boys franchise; the Harlem-in-the-1970s-set crime drama, The Council, which was also announced as in pre-production; a reported Planes, Trains and Automobiles remake at Paramount with Smith opposite Kevin Hart; and the second season of his travel series for National Geographic/Disney+, Welcome to Earth (named for what may be Smith’s icon-making line of dialogue in the 1996 smash hit Independence Day).

On Friday, potentially under pressure from both outside and within the body, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The Academy has condemned Smith’s actions on Oscar night and opened disciplinary proceedings against their latest Best Actor winner. Rock, who remained composed but appeared to be in shock in the moments after the brazen attack, has declined to press charges against Smith. 

In its aftermath, the shocking incident has spawned ongoing conversations across the nation about violence, forgiveness, toxic masculinity, and even an awareness campaign around alopecia.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.