The Hollywood Reporter says Mel Gibson is set to star in The Professor and The Madman, a film about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Sean Penn is in negotiations to play a lead role opposite Gibson, while Apocalypto writer Farhad Safinia wrote the screenplay and will direct the movie, which “delves into madness, genius and two obsessive men who changed the course of literary history.”
Gibson will play Professor James Murray, who in 1857 set about compiling the OED, one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. Penn will play Dr. W. C. Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries but was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.
Mel Gibson acquired the rights to Simon Winchester’s bestselling book of the same name back in 1998. This has been a passion project of Gibson’s for nearly twenty years.