Mel Gibson & Sean Penn will Star in ‘The Professor and the Madman’

mel gibson - sean penn

This could be great.

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn will be starring together in an adaptation of The Professor and the Madman, the best-selling novel by author Simon Winchester.

Gibson acquired the rights to the novel in 1998 with the intention of directing. That will no longer be the case, with Gibson passing on directing duties to his Apocalypto co-writer Farhad Safinia. Safinia, whose credits include creating and showrunning the Kelsey Grammer-starring Starz series Boss, will be making his directorial debut with the film.

According to THR, the outlet that broke the news, The Professor and the Madman is to tell “the true story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary — a tale that delves into madness, genius and two obsessive men who changed the course of literary history.” No word as yet as to who will be the Professor and who will play the Madman.

It’s a fascinating premise, and one that could no doubt benefit from two renowned, Oscar-winning actors such as Gibson and Penn. Assuming all develops without a hitch, this will mark the first-ever feature starring both actors, which is somewhat surprising considering they kicked off their careers around the same time (Gibson’s Mad Max opening in ’79; Penn’s Tops opening in ’81).

The Professor and the Madman is eyeing a production start next month in Europe.

Next up for Gibson is the thriller Blood Father, arriving in Australia on September 1, and Hacksaw Ridge, his fifth feature as director, opening in Australia on November 3.

Penn also has another directorial effort on the way. Penn’s The Last Face, starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, had an unfortunately poor reception at Cannes earlier this year. On the acting side of things, Penn will be starring as Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, in HBO mini-series American Lion.