James Franco Casts Lead in Sal Mineo Biopic
Indie actor Val Lauren will portray Sal Mineo in a biopic tentatively titled Sal. Mineo was the enigmatic actor most well known for his performance opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. He received an Academy Award nomination for Rebel in 1955 and another in 1960 for Exodus, but his career was cut short when he was tragically murdered in 1976 at the age of 37.
Mineo, who was gay himself, has been praised for his subtle portrayal of homosexuality with John “Plato” Crawford, the sensitive teenager enamored with James Dean’s character in Rebel.
“Sal Mineo himself was an extraordinary and super complex guy,” Lauren told The Hollywood Reporter. “People know him for Rebel Without a Cause, but he was technically the first actor who came out of the closet. He was very brave.”
Franco, who won a Golden Globe for playing James Dean in a 2001 TV movie, wrote the film as an adaptation of a Michael Gregg Michaud-penned biography. He will also direct the film, which is set begin shooting in Los Angeles in early summer.
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