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Will Smith plays Nicky Barnes in the new crime drama ‘The Council’

Will Smith Mr. Untouchable Nicky Barnes / The Image Worx

Will Smith is Nicky Barnes, the New York crime boss, in Netflix’s new film The Council.

The Council stars Smith as Nicky Barnes, the notorious Harlem crime boss known for trafficking heroin. After a stint in prison, Barnes joins forces with seven Black men in the drug trade calling themselves The Council.

The Council is the never-before-told story of a crime syndicate consisting of seven African-American men who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and early ’80s. No ordinary crime syndicate – these men dreamed of a self-sufficient and self-policing African-American city-state, funded by revolutionizing the drug game. The movie centers on the Shakespearean court intrigue between The Council’s king, Nicky Barnes, dubbed “Mr. Untouchable” by the New York Times, and all the different members as one unlikely rising protégé emerges.

Peter Landesman (Concussion, Parkland) will author The Council’s script. Smith is producing with James Lassiter for Westbrook Inc.’s Overbrook Entertainment along with Jackson Pictures’ Matt Jackson and Jason Essex for Anonymous Nobodies.

Barnes passed away in 2002. During the height of his reign, Barnes was dubbed “Mr. Untouchable” by the New York Times for his ability to evade criminal charges. Ultimately, Barnes’ luck runs out in 1977 when he is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Four years into his incarceration, Barnes becomes an FBI informant and testified against The Council. Barnes would remain in jail until the time of his death.

The Council is the latest project focusing on the 70’s era Harlem drug boom. Epix series, “The Godfather of Harlem starring Forest Whitaker chronicles the post-prison life of Bumpy Johnson.