So...anybody want to watch a movie about the Oxford English Dictionary? No? Sounds like homework? Well, what if it stars Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, and it's actually about the creation of the first OED and the wild story behind it, which involves mental patients and stuff like that? Sound a bit better? Good, because that's what is happening.
Gibson and Penn will star in The Professor and the Madman, which will be written and directed by Farhad Safinia (writer of Gibson's Apocalypto) based on the book by Simon Winchester. The story takes place in 1857 and follows two obsessive men taking on a project too big for either of them. Gibson plays Professor James Murray, who set out to compile the first Oxford English Dictionary, which exhaustively researches the origins and usages of words throughout our history. His work was complicated by asylum inmate Dr. W. C. Minor (Penn) who submitted more than 10,000 entries for the dictionary.
The plan is to begin filming in October assuming everything comes together. Gibson and Penn are both sort of Hollywood pariahs at the moment so I'll be curious to see what kind of support this project gets. It sounds fascinating, though, even if none of us have cracked open a dictionary in years.