One of the dozens of projects on Will Smith’s upcoming film slate is a project based on the story of an ex-Marine who orchestrated the rescue of hundreds of his neighbors during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. John Lee Hancock is said to be writing and directing the project, titled The American Can.

Standing at 6-ft-seven and 260 pounds, ex-Marine John Keller lived in a five-story apartment building in New Orleans. After chasing away some looters he emerged as the man in charge of the 244 residents, many of them elderly or handicapped.

For five days, Keller, dubbed the “Can Man,” kept the building safe from the chaos raging around the city. He also directed the eventual rescue operation from the building’s roof.

I fully expected Will Smith to star in the film adaptation of the story after he acquired the rights to it two years ago. However, it was announced earlier this week that Smith will be working behind the camera as producer with Denzel Washington to star instead.

Obviously, the lead character will be aged to accommodate Denzel, who’s in his 50s. Keller is closer to Will Smith’s age. Also, Denzel certainly isn’t 6-ft-7 and 260 pounds, but I suppose that can be worked around in the script.

Washington is said to be currently working out details with Will and Sony Pictures, so stay tuned.

Tambay Obenson is editor of Shadow And Act on the indieWIRE Network at

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