Mel Gibson and Sean Penn to film in Dublin for The Professor and the Madman
by Naman Ramachandran
- Apocalypto co-scribe Farhad Safinia is to make his feature directorial debut with the piece
Feature debutant Farhad Safinia will commence an eight-week production in and around Dublin from the end of September on The Professor and the Madman. Based on Simon Winchester’s 1998 bestselling novel, the film rights were acquired by Mel Gibson the same year. British director John Boorman (Queen and Country [+see also:
interview: John Boorman
film profile]) was due to direct and wrote a script with Todd Komarnicki (Sully). Later, Safinia, who co-wrote Gibson’s Oscar-, BAFTA- and Golden Globe-nominated Apocalypto (2006) with him, rewrote and will now direct. Gibson will play Professor James Murray, who in 1857 undertook the creation of the famed Oxford English Dictionary. Sean Penn will play Dr WC Minor, responsible for more than 10,000 entries in the dictionary while being an inmate at the Broadmoor asylum for the insane.
The film also features emerging local Irish talent, including Rob McCormack, Abigail Coburn, Zoe Moran, Phonsie Wardell and Nora Cooper, cast from an extensive search as the family of Professor Murray.
Gibson’s Icon Productions (US) is producing with Ireland’s Fastnet Films, with creative co-production funding from the Irish Film Board (IFB) and on-the-ground locations support from the IFB inward production team. Voltage Pictures is handling international sales.
Safinia has previously directed the short Outside the Box (2001) and is the creator of the television series Boss (2011-12). Gibson’s directorial venture, the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge, bowed at Venice and will go on worldwide release in November. The Last Face, directed by Penn, premiered at Cannes 2016 and will be released in 2017. On the acting front, Gibson was last seen in Jean-François Richet’s Blood Father [+see also:
film profile] (France), which had festival play at Cannes, Sydney and Karlovy Vary before a global box-office rollout. Penn was in Pierre Morel’s Gunman [+see also:
film profile] (US/Spain/UK/France), which was released in 2015, and in 2016 he voiced a character in Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly’s The Angry Birds Movie [+see also:
film profile] (US/Finland).