Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco Sign on to Milk Film


Final negotiations are underway for three actors to join the cast of Gus van Sant’s Milk, Gus van Sant’s biopic of the slain San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights icon, opposite Sean Penn in the title role.

Milkcastingcall_3Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), and James Franco (Spider-Man 3) are signing on.

Via the Hollywood Reporter: “Brolin will play Dan White, the rival politician and supervisor who shot Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone to death at City Hall. Hirsch has been cast as gay rights activist Cleve Jones, an intern and close ally of Milk’s, who went on to found the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Franco will play Scott Smith, Milk’s lover and campaign manager.”

Variety reports: “Pic will shoot entirely in San Francisco, where Milk became the first openly gay man elected to office in 1977. ‘Milk’ is the first feature about the activist to go before the lens. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have been developing an adaptation of ‘The Mayor of Castro Street’ for 15 years, but their project is in strike limbo. Bryan Singer is attached to direct it for Warner Independent, but Chris McQuarrie didn’t turn his script in before the WGA strike deadline (Daily Variety, Nov. 19).”

The filmmakers are also holding open casting calls in the city. A Towleroad reader sent us this shot of one of the posters hanging in San Francisco. They’re looking for 18-30-year-old men, and they’ll be casting at 325 Sanchez Street between 16th and 17th in the Castro between 10am and 4pm this Saturday!

Look for a special bonus Harvey Milk post coming up in just a bit!

You may have missed…
Gus van Sant and Sean Penn are First to Spill Milk [tr]
Singer and Van Sant Vie to be First with Harvey Milk Film [tr]
Harvey Milk to get Bust at San Francisco City Hall [tr]
Vintage Gay Castro Images and Harvey Milk [tr]
Thank God for Harvey Milk [tr]


  1. peterparker says

    I am elated that Emile Hirsch has signed on for this film! For anyone who has not seen him in Sean Penn’s ‘Into The Wild’, I urge you to go see it. Hirsch is incredible in that film!

  2. Leland Frances says

    For the 89 millionith time, Harvey Milk, regardless of his other accomplishments, was NOT the “first openly gay man elected to office.” That distinction belongs to Allan Spear who was reelected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1976 after coming out in 1974. While he represented a liberal, college-related district, it was still more of an accomplishment to get elected as an out gay man in Minnesota than in San Francisco. He served for 28 years, and was elected senate president by his peers for the last 8. For his place in history he had the misfortune of not getting assassinated.

    As for this film project, I continue to be depressed that the Singer/Zadan/Meron project did not beat van Sant to the proverbial punch. The story would be a hard sell to nongay audiences in the best of circumstances and will, I am still convinced, be a box office disaster in the hands of limited talent van Sant, starring the Actor America Loves To Hate, Penn, and scripted by someone whose primary writing credits are for a few episodes of HBO’s “Big Love.” The screenwriter for the Singer project is Oscar-winner [for “The Usual Suspects”] Chris McQuarrie. Do the math.

  3. Paul says

    SEAN PENN IS BOX OFFICE POISON! He ruins everything he touches with his self-important, ham-handed acting…He and Nicole Kidman both have NEVER been in a hit.

  4. anon (gmail.com) says

    Leland, I thought there was a women who came out before Spear but after being elected, though her name escapes me.

    I kind of read that as “first gay elected to office IN SF” but perhaps they were ill informed.

  5. says

    I can’t speak to Penn’s box-office prowess, but he certainly is capable of making a good film. Into the Wild was one of the best I’ve seen all year, which makes me even more excited to see this film, whenever it’s finished, since Emile Hirsch rocked working with Penn the first time – in Into the Wild.

  6. AdamN says

    Leland, I disagree.
    Van Sant is not a limited talent. “My Own Private Idaho”,”Drugstore Cowboy”,and “To Die For” are great art/indie films of the 1990s. He has made a lot of junk since then but he had a pretty original vision in his early films. If he taps back into some of that I think he could do a great job with Milk’s story.
    I like Singer but hes not really on par with Van Sant in talent in my opinion.

  7. Leland Frances says

    Anon, as the “Variety” quote only referenced “man,” I chose not to mention the two out women who preceded Spear. The first was Kathy Kozachenko [sometimes spelled “Cathy”], elected to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council in January of 1974. Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts state legislature in November of the same year.

    As for Penn, I don’t dispute his potential as an actor, nor anyone else cast. But he is box office poison, and even were he not, in my not so humble opinion, has the absolutely totally wrong “look” to play Harvey. The mural in today’s other thread about him captures perfectly his grand, joyous smile. When I think of Penn, I flash first on the built-in perpetual scowl on his face which can only result in soured Milk.

  8. anon (gmail.com) says

    Yeah, man, I should have thought of that. Oops. Well, I was half right. Thanks for filling in the blanks.

    Penn is the type that brings in Oscar nominations, not cash. “Into the Wild” may get a nom this year.

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