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Will Smith will star in the thriller “Emancipation,” which will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, sources tell Variety.

William N. Collage penned the script, based on the true story of Peter, a runaway slave forced to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the punishing Louisiana swamp on a tortuous journey to the Union Army and his only chance at freedom.

Production is expected to start early in 2021.

Smith, James Lassiter and Jon Mone will produce “Emancipation” through Westbrook Studios, along with McFarland Entertainment’s Joey McFarland and Escape Artists’ Todd Black. Fuqua will executive produce under his Fuqua Films banner, alongside Cliff Roberts.

CAA Media Finance, which arranged the financing for the film, represents U.S. rights; Film Nation Entertainment represents international sales. The movie will also be introduced to buyers at the upcoming virtual Cannes market.

Both Smith and Fuqua were in the middle of productions that were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith had to stop filming on Warner Bros.’ biopic “King Richard,” in which Smith portrays the father and coach of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. Meanwhile, Fuqua was in post-production on Paramount’s action thriller “Infinite.”

Smith most recently starred in Paramount’s sci-fi epic “Gemini Man,” as well as Disney’s smash hit “Aladdin,” where he played the Genie. Fuqua, whose credits include “Training Day,” “Olympus Has Fallen” and “The Equalizer,” was a producer on “#FreeRayShawn” for Quibi.

Smithis repped by CAA and Overbrook Entertainment while Fuqua is repped by CAA. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.