Mel Gibson and Sean Penn to star in dictionary movie

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Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn are to star in 'The Professor and the Madman', a true tale of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn are to star in a movie about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The 'Braveheart' actor acquired the big screen rights to Simon Winchester's book 'The Professor and the Madman' in 1998 and the film of the same name is finally set to come to fruition thanks to Voltage Pictures, who are backing the project.

The true story will see Gibson portray Professor James Murray, who set about compiling the dictionary in 1857 in what was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken.

Meanwhile, Penn is in negotiations to play Dr. W.C. Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries for the lexicon - but was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Gibson had initially developed the project to direct, but he has now handed over the reins to Farhad Safinia, who has also written the screenplay, though Todd Komarnicki and John Boorman penned an earlier draft of the script.

A release date has yet to be set but Voltage Pictures will be introducing the project to prospective buyers at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.

Gibson's Icon Pictures are producing the movie.

It was recently revealed that Gibson is working on a sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ'.

The 60-year-old actor is set to join forces with screenwriter Randall Wallace to pen a follow-up to the biblical blockbuster, which hit screens in 2004 and starred Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene

Whereas 'The Passion of the Christ' depicted Jesus' crucifixion, the sequel will focus on his resurrection.

Wallace said of the project: "I always wanted to tell this story.

"The 'Passion of the Christ' is the beginning and there's a lot more story to tell."

The pair began to talk about the sequel to the original, which became the most successful independent movie of all time, while working on the forthcoming film 'Hacksaw Ridge' last year.

Wallace added: "The evangelical community considers 'The Passion...' the biggest movie ever out of Hollywood, and they kept telling us that they think a sequel will be even bigger."

However, the project, which is still in the early script stage, hasn't had any studio or financial backing as of yet but Wallace believes it's "too early" to discuss money or to approach big bosses.

He said: "It's too early to talk money. This is such a huge and sacred subject."

'The Passion of the Christ' follows Jesus' final stage in life, depicting his visit to Jerusalem and his crucifixion, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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