Denzel May Open American Can

Will Smith wants him for the drama

Given the harrowing human drama of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and its devastating impact on New Orleans, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been tapped for many more films than we’ve actually gotten. But Will Smith is not letting the opportunity go by. He’s still trying to get based-on-fact pic The American Can made, and is busy trying to convince Denzel Washington to star.

Smith first got involved back in 2009 when he and his Overbrook Entertainment company bought the life rights to the story of John Keller, a man who saved many lives in the aftermath of the storm.

Keller, a tough, tall former Marine, helped keep the 150-odd residents of his apartment complex – American Can, which is where the project gets its title, unsurprisingly – safe when they were cut off by 11-foot-high floods of fetid water. Many of those living in the building were elderly and infirm, and hadn’t been able to evacuate. Keller got them moved to the roof and co-ordinated the distribution of airdropped supplies while also guarding the place from looters.

With The Blind Side’s John Lee Hancock having written the script and on board to direct, Smith had considered playing Keller himself, but he’s got other commitments (including M Night Shyamalan’s One Thousand A.E.) and so he’s now got Washington reading script drafts and giving notes to see whether he’d be a good fit for the project. Will Washington sign on? We’ll have to wait and see, but it certainly sounds like an attractive acting prospect…