Union due as lead for Col’s ‘Boys 2’

Thesp joins Smith, Lawrence

Gabrielle Union has inked to topline as the female lead in Columbia Pictures’ “Bad Boys 2.”

Union, who next stars opposite LL Cool J in USA Films’ “Deliver Us From Eva,” also toplines in Warner Bros.’ “Cradle to the Grave” next year. She will leave for Miami to start lensing on “Bad Boys 2” shortly.

Union plays Syd Burnett, sassy, smart half-sister to henpecked Det. Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) as well as the love interest of footloose Det. Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). Original 1995 buddy cop movie “Bad Boys” made $141 million worldwide and seemed natural for a remake a la “Lethal Weapon.” But in the years since, the team of Lawrence, Smith and helmer Michael Bay all became A-list gross participants like its producer, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Pic will be supervised by Col exec VP of production Doug Belgrad.

Union also has a smaller role in the upcoming “Welcome to Collinwood” and appears opposite Katie Holmes in Par’s thriller “Abandon,” which marks the helming debut of scripter Steve Gaghan (“Traffic”).

Union is repped by the William Morris Agency and managed by Strong/Morrone Entertainment.

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