James Franco Interested in Writing & Directing a Sal Mineo Biopic

December 8, 2010
Source: THR

Sal Mineo

Though the actor found success playing the late James Dean in a made-for-TV movie on TNT back in 2001, it looks like James Franco is interested in another star of the classic Rebel Without a Cause. THR reports Franco has optioned the rights to Sal Mineo: A Biography, a book from Michael Greg Michaud which chronicles the life of the young actor who played Plato alongside Dean's rough-around-the-edges Jim Stark. Mineo's story is one of success that carried from his teenage years to his tragic untimely death at 37 years old. Franco is interested in writing and directing the biopic but currently doesn't have any intentions of starring in the film.

Mineo is probably best know for his work in the aforementioned 1955 classic which garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and made him the youngest actor ever nominated in the category at the time. However, the book delves into the professional and personal life of Mineo including his friendships with James Dean and Natalie Wood and his supposedly conflicted sexuality, a point of interest for anyone who has studied the homosexual undertones of Rebel Without a Cause. Here's how Publisher's Weekly describes the book:

Artist and photographer Michaud delivers a prismatic portrait of actor Mineo, who made 21 films before his brutal 1976 murder. In a childhood leap from the Bronx to Broadway, the 11-year-old Mineo was cast in' The Rose Tattoo' in 1951 and got acting tips and inspiration from Yul Brynner during 'The King and I.' He made the move to Hollywood and found success at a time when studios were reaching toward the new teen market: Sal fit the bill perfectly. His tough yet sensitive image appealed to both girls and boys. After his memorable scenes with James Dean in 'Rebel Without a Cause,' he became the youngest performer ever nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar. By age 35, however, his film career was over, and he turned his attention to directing theater; it was during this career change that he was stabbed and killed during a robbery attempt. Michaud captures the actor' s passionate, freewheeling lifestyle, and his narrative is dotted with those who worked with him: Dennis Hopper, Janet Leigh, Eva Marie Saint, and James Whitmore. Especially revealing are the intimate insights of Mineo' s fiancée, Jill Haworth, and his male lover Courtney Burr.

Depending on how much of his relationship with James Dean is featured in the film, Franco could easily reprise the role that garnered him a Golden Globe nearly a decade ago. As of now, it's unclear how soon this project might get off the ground, especially since the book was just optioned and there likely isn't even a script yet. In addition, Franco has quite a lot on his plate including Noah Baumbach's next film, Ariel Vroman's The Iceman, wearing multiple hats on The Adderall Diaries, and even hosting next year's Academy Awards (where he could also win Best Actor for his performance in 127 Hours). Let's hope he doesn't spread himself too thin. What do you think?

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Wow! Sal Mineo really looks like Michelle Rodriguez with an italian schoolboy haircut.

Lesley on Dec 8, 2010


This is so creepy. Everytime I watch an old movie, you guys post something about it here. No lie. I just watched this like a week ago. Now they're doin' a biopic or talking about one? Please explain.

Eli on Dec 8, 2010


I'm looking forward to whatever film Franco ends up directing next. He just went through film school and I'm curious to see what he's got up his sleeve.

samir on Dec 8, 2010


Before I read the headline I thought that picture was a young Russel Crowe!

Mike Balrog on Dec 8, 2010


i don't see the need for this film.

beavis on Dec 9, 2010


Id watch this

Lando on Dec 9, 2010


Let me just say that Sal Mineo has one of the most interesting stories in all of Hollywood. Not only was he one of the hardest working teenage actors of all time, but he later became typecasted in "rebel" roles and the "native" parts because of his dark skin and hair. He was also the first youth to portray a gay character, and even got an Oscar nod for his performance. His story will be one of the best ever told in a biopic, and James Franco is making a wise choice in telling it on the screen.

Marcus Dunn on Dec 9, 2010

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