Will Smith movie filming in Destrehan

Will Smith will star in Emancipation, which has been filming scenes in Destrehan.

People driving through Destrehan over the past several days may have noticed camera and lighting crews set up, and indeed, another major motion picture is filming locally.

The action thriller Emancipation, starring Will Smith, has been filming scenes for a projected 2022 release. It’s a continuation of work that was done in July and August.

Alongside Smith, the cast includes Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor and Mustafa Shakir. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and the script was written by William N. Collage.

The film is set during the Civil War and chronicles the experiences of a slave named Peter, who escapes from a Louisiana Plantation and – while being hunted down – travels North to join the Union Army. The story is based on the real life story of an escaped slave named Gordon, whose wounds from the whippings of an overseer were published worldwide and cited as evidence of the cruelty of slavery.

The film was originally meant to be filmed in Georgia, but the site was moved in protest of the state’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, with Smith and Fuqua citing “regressive voting laws designed to restrict voter access” as the point of contention.

In June, there was a casting call for Louisiana extras for spots in the movie.

Several major studios bid for the film, including Warner Bros, MGM, Lionsgate and Universal Pictures. Apple won the distribution rights for more than $150 million.

Smith’s presence on the cast no doubt was among the top reasons for that bidding zeal. Smith is the only actor to have starred in eight consecutive films which grossed over $100 million in the United States box office, eleven consecutive films which grossed over $150 million internationally, and eight consecutive films which opened at the number one spot in the U.S. box office tally. Among those were Independence Day, Men in Black and Ali.

Several television and film projects have utilized St. Charles Parish as backdrop this year. In August, filming for the television series Cherish the Day took place in Norco.

St. Rose’s Aaron Campeaux Towing was featured in season two of the A&E series Hustle and Tow, with St. Charles Parish settings prominently shown during the season.

Harry Hurst Middle School was a site for filming for the Netflix movie Home Team, which is centered around Saints head coach Sean Payton in the aftermath of Bountygate, as he became the offensive coach for his son Connor’s sixth grade football team.

In March, the USA Network crime drama Fit for a Queen filmed scenes in Luling, and in February, another crime drama, FOX’s Blood Relative, shot in Des Allemands.


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