EXCLUSIVE: In what would be his first major starring role since he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto is in early talks to star in director Julius Onah’s Brilliance, the Legendary Pictures adaptation of the Marcus Sakey novel that has a script by David Koepp. Noomi Rapace has been attached to play the female lead and Universal will release through its Legendary deal. This is the role that Will Smith exited, shortly before he aligned himself to the Sony project about the effect of concussions on football players, which Peter Landesman is writing to direct.

Brilliance focuses on a world where a rare set of people are born with extraordinary abilities and are called “brilliants.” At the center of the story is a federal agent with great hunting gifts who is drafted to track down a terrorist, another such brilliant who intends to start a civil war. Onah directed The Girl Is In Trouble, and Joe Roth and Palak Patel are producing with Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni. Leto  is very selective about the films he commits to, and this process has been a slow roll. Leto met the director yesterday. He won his Oscar for playing a transgender woman with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, the first film he’d done in five years. Leto is repped by CAA.