EXCLUSIVE: James Franco Eyes Return to ‘Rebel’ with Sal Mineo Biopic

James Franco, left, and Sal Mineo.

Actor who played James Dean in 2001 movie could write and direct the new project.

James Franco is returning to Rebel Without a Cause.

Franco, who won a Golden Globe for playing James Dean in a 2001 TV movie, has optioned film rights to a just-released biography of Sal Mineo, the enigmatic actor who shared memorable scenes with Dean in the 1955 classic. Mineo led a freewheeling lifestyle and became the youngest performer nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar (for Rebel) before being murdered at age 37.

Franco optioned the property himself for his Rabbit Bandini shingle as a potential writing-and-directing vehicle. He currently does not plan to star but that could change.
Sal Mineo: A Biography, by artist and photographer Michael Gregg Michaud, was published in November by Random House. It details Mineo’s rise to fame in such films as Rebel and 1960’s Exodus, his conflicted sexuality and friendships with Dean and Natalie Wood, as well as his 1976 death in West Hollywood after being stabbed by a pizza deliverman.

The book includes insights from such collaborators as Dennis Hopper, as well as Mineo’s fiancee Jill Haworth and his male lover Courtney Burr, according to book reviews.  

Franco, repped by WME, James/Levy Management and Loeb & Loeb, has been acquiring properties lately. He recently optioned Stephen Elliott's memoir The Adderall Diaries as a writing-directing-starring vehicle.

Franco currently is in the Oscar race for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and will star in next summer’s Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes for Fox.