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Gugu Mbatha-Raw Books Co-Starring Role Opposite Will Smith in NFL Concussion Drama

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Books Co-Starring Role Opposite Will Smith in NFL Concussion Drama

Fresh from the TIFF world premiere of her latest work, “Beyond the Lights,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw has booked a co-starring role, opposite Will Smith, in a yet-to-be titled drama on concussions in the NFL, which is based on the GQ article “Game Brain,” written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and which follows Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist, who single-handedly made the first discovery of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in a pro football player, raising public awareness for the degenerative disease. 

The article tells a whistle-blower tale, humanizing the price paid by professional athletes in impact sports, and the political, cultural and corporate interests that fuel the business of professional sports. 
Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production shingle and Sony Pictures are backing the project, which will of course star Will Smith as Dr. Omalu, under the direction of Peter Landesman, who will also pen script. No word on what role Mbatha-Raw has signed up to play.
The project joins other upcoming films on CTE in development, including “Game Time Decision” – Matthew Cherry’s follow-up to his feature film debut, “The Last Fall,” which attracted the acting talents of Isaiah Washington, who will star as a retired football player suffering from the effects of concussions sustained during his professional career, as he tries to reconnect with his estranged family, notably a son following in his father’s footsteps, in danger of a similar kind of future.
The goal of each film is to highlight Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is common in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury; an affliction suffered by dozens of deceased former players, like Junior Seau.
“Oscar” has eluded Will Smith, despite 2 nominations within a 5-year period. Playing what will likely be a meaty role in Dr Omalu, in what will also probably be a weighty, dramatic, hopefully finely-crafted Scott Free-produced project, tackling a very topical subject, just might mean a 3rd. 

Meanwhile, Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s “Beyond the Lights” – the latest work from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, will be released by Relativity this fall.

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