Blood Father star Mel Gibson will star in THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, with Sean Penn in early negotiations to join him. Apocalypto writer Farhad Safinia is set to direct from his own screenplay, which he has adapted from Simon Winchester’s 1998 book, “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary.”
Winchester recounts the tale of the Professor James Murray (Gibson), who oversaw the committee to compile the Oxford English Dictionary in the second half of the 19th Century. Murray discovers that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor (Penn) had submitted over ten thousand definitions, only to learn that Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane for committing murder.
Gibson is producing through his Icon Productions – he’s held the film rights for nearly twenty years – with Nicolas Chartier of Voltage Pictures. The project has been in development for many years, jumping from Paramount to EuropaCorps before settling at Voltage.
Gibson recently directed the WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington. Penn recently directed the drama The Last Face, and is currently in preproduction with HBO’s American Lion, based on the book by Jon Meachem, in which he’ll play President Andrew Jackson.
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor
This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.