Mel Gibson and Sean Penn are set to team for a film adaptation of Simon Winchester’s 1998 novel “The Professor and the Madman” for Voltage Pictures and Icon Pictures.
The project is about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary and Gibson has been trying to bring it to the big screen since its release. Though he’d been developing it as a directing vehicle, Gibson has handed the reins over to his “Apocalypto” writer Farhad Safinia who will direct instead.
Gibson will star as Professor James Murray who in 1857 set about compiling the OED. Penn is in negotiations to play Dr. W. C. Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries but was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.
Safinia wrote the screenplay from an earlier draft by Todd Komarnicki and John Boorman. Shooting is slated to begin in September in Europe.