FYI: if (or when, depending on your degree of cynicism) there’s a global catastrophe, only actors, roaches and horrible hemoglobin-sucking mutants will survive.

Will Smith will star in the adaptation of the fantastic Richard Matheson vampire story I Am Legend.  The influential tale follows Neville, the last living man in a postapocalyptic New York (apparently now shifted from the LA sprawl of the Charleton Heston cheesefest The Omega Man) where he contends with hordes of bloodthirsty nocturnal mutants, the result of a devastating worldwide plague.

The big-budget Warner Bros. flick will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who already did fine work capturing hellish landscapes with Constantine. Let’s hope he and writer Akiva Goldsman (who reworked the notoriously unproduced Mark Protosevich draft) keep the original material’s gravitas — I think Smith can be a solid actor when he restrains the “street” Will that even crept into I, Robot (“Get off mah caaaaaaw!!!”).

The perennially postponed project has been in the works for over a decade and has had Ridley Scott, Rob Bowman and Michael Bay (when Smith was attached the first time) hesitantly hovering their asses over the director’s chair, while actors once rumored for the lead role of Neville reads like a high-profile Who’s Who: Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nic Cage, Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell have all considered the lonely errand of battling the pasty undead and talking to themselves.  Besides the bare-chested Heston fest The Omega Man, "I Am Legend" has previously been translated to film as the somewhat creepy Vincent Price film The Last Man on Earth.

Smith will next be all up in the superhero drama Tonight He Comes, which is desperately in need of a new title.