I Am Legend is an upcoming 2007 American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith. It is the fourth film adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend, following The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and the straight to video I Am Omega (2007). Smith plays Robert Neville, possibly Earth's only survivor of a man-made virus. He works to create a cure but is stalked by nocturnal mutant survivors of the plague.
Warner Bros. Pictures began developing I Am Legend in 1994, and various actors and directors were attached to the project, though it did not enter production due to budgetary concerns. I Am Legend entered production in 2006 in New York City, filming mainly on location in the city including a $5 million scene at the Brooklyn Bridge, the most expensive scene filmed in the city to date. For the film, Warner Bros. launched a tie-in comic and an online multiplayer game on Second Life as part of its marketing campaign. I Am Legend is scheduled to be released December 14, 2007.
A man-made virus wipes out the population of New York City in 2009, leaving virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) the last human survivor in the city and possibly the world. Neville lives alone for three years, attempting to contact and find other possible survivors. He is watched by nocturnal mutant victims of the plague. Neville was the indirect cause of the fall of man: his government-funded research helped spread the virus, and he now works to redeem himself for this folly. Naturally immune, Neville realizes that two percent of the human race must also be immune. Nevertheless, many of them were killed by the infected, who became cannibalistic. Neville finds himself outnumbered by the infected and running out of time.
Will Smith stars as Robert Neville, a role which the actor found to be his toughest challenge since portraying Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001). In playing the last uninfected human in Manhattan, Smith is on his own with only a dog for company during the first half of the film. He said that "when you're on your own, it is kind of hard to find conflict." The film's dark tone and exploration of whether Neville has gone insane during his isolation meant Smith had to restrain himself from falling into a humorous routine during takes.
Smith said he took on I Am Legend because he felt it could be like "Gladiator [or] Forrest Gump — these are movies with wonderful, audience-pleasing elements but also uncompromised artistic value. [This] always felt like it had those possibilities to me." He compared Neville to Job, who lost his children, livelihood and health. Like the Book of Job, I Am Legend studies whether "can he find a reason to continue? Can he find the hope or desire to excel and advance in life? Or does the death of everything around him create imminent death for himself?" He also cited an influence in Tom Hanks' performance in Cast Away (20).
Abbey, a three-year-old German Shepherd, played Neville's dog. Another dog was used for scenes where Neville plays fetch with his companion, as Abbey refused to perform these scenes. The rest of the supporting cast consists of Salli Richardson as Ginny, Robert's wife, and Alice Braga as a character named Anna. Willow Smith, Will Smith's daughter, makes her film debut as Marley, Neville's daughter.