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Mel Gibson and Sean Penn to create the dictionary in The Professor and the Madman

on August 02, 2016, 10:09am

True story: Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have never worked together.

Finally, after decades of waiting on pins and needles, Lt. Martin Riggs and Jeff Spicoli will come together at last for the adaptation of Simon Winchester’s 1998 book, The Professor and the Madman.

Per its official synopsis, the film is literally about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, but with an unexpected, bloody backdrop:

“Hidden within the rituals of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary is a fascinating mystery. Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of the most prolific contributors to the dictionary, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. After numerous refusals from Minor to visit his home in Oxford, Murray set out to find him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor – that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, he was also an insane murderer locked up in Broadmoor, England’s harshest asylum for criminal lunatics. The Professor and the Madman is the unforgettable story of the madness and genius that contributed to one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters.”

Upon the book’s initial publication, Mad Mel quickly snatched up the rights and he’s been sitting on them ever since. No idea why he hasn’t made the film yet but it probably has something to do with Timothy Dalton.

Now that he’s primed for a kickass comeback — Blood Father pops up this month; Hacksaw Ridge will reach for Oscar come November — he’ll have a chance to get this done proper.

Gibson won’t direct the upcoming film, however. That honor goes to Apocalypto writer Farhad Safinia, who will helm the picture with Gibson starring as the professor and Penn as the madman. And you say Hollywood typecasts!

Shooting will begin this fall overseas in Europe.

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