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James Franco Casts Actor Val Lauren in Sal Mineo Biopic

James Franco has cast actor Val Lauren to play Sal Mineo in his upcoming biopic, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

Lauren The film, tentatively titled Sal, tells the story of the enigmatic actor best known for his appearance opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Produced by Franco's Rabbit Bandini shingle, the film will begin shooting in Los Angeles in early summer.


Mineo, who was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar twice -- in 1955 for Rebel and in 1960 for Exodus -- was murdered in West Hollywood in 1976 at the age of 37. The actor, who was gay, played the part of John "Plato" Crawford in Rebel; Mineo broke ground for his subtle portrayal of a homosexual character.

"Sal Mineo himself was an extraordinary and super complex guy," Lauren tells The Hollywood Reporter. "People know him for Rebel Without a Cause, but he was technically the first actor who came out of the closet. He was very brave."

Lauren is a relative unknown, whose credits include Dallas 362 (2003) and Help, a short film he wrote, directed and produced. He'll also guest star on the season finale of Hawaii Five-0.

The film is being adapted from Sal Mineo: A Biography, by artist and photographer Michael Gregg Michaud, published last November by Random House.

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  1. Nice to see fresh faces in starring roles. The film seems very interesting.
    (By the way, I already thought, where are news about JF. I like him.)

    Posted by: Matt26 | May 11, 2011 10:25:43 AM

  2. At this point I really think Franco is doing some kind of performance art piece concerning his sexuality.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | May 11, 2011 10:41:41 AM

  3. That is one piece of bad casting.

    Posted by: OhpleaseMike | May 11, 2011 10:48:58 AM

  4. Mineo was actually Bi. He had a very long affair with Jill Haworth who co-starred with him in Exodus.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 11, 2011 10:50:40 AM

  5. James Franco is so rad.

    Posted by: andypharmer | May 11, 2011 11:26:44 AM

  6. Is he going to get a nose job before filming? Sal Mineo was much more attraction.

    Posted by: Lewis | May 11, 2011 11:31:48 AM

  7. David E, maybe like Ricki Martin he classified himself as gay as it was just a couple of females?

    Posted by: Rowan | May 11, 2011 11:42:02 AM

  8. Ah Franco, you're such a tease...

    Posted by: Michael in Toronto | May 11, 2011 11:49:31 AM

  9. James Franco's brother would've made a better Sal.

    Posted by: brenda | May 11, 2011 11:50:38 AM

  10. This movie seems like it will be extremely interesting. I can't wait.

    Posted by: Logan | May 11, 2011 11:58:33 AM

  11. This guy is a pooch -- Mineo was adorable! Bad casting.

    Posted by: Bob | May 11, 2011 12:21:22 PM

  12. actors sometimes manage to overcome a lack of resemblance to the actual person they are portraying, but in this case that's going to take a miracle. and yes, either franco brother would have been a better choice in the role.

    Posted by: bandanajack | May 11, 2011 12:41:39 PM

  13. I'm glad to see this movie taking shape, but the statement the actor makes that Sal was "technically" the first actor out of the closet is inaccurate.

    William Haines was already out of the closet by age 14, a quarter-century before Sal Mineo was even born, and MGM forced him in 1933 to choose between a studio-enforced sham marriage or his own husband. He lost his career and remained in "the happiest marriage in Hollywood" (according to Joan Crawford) for the rest of their lives (until the 1970's), in spite of the couple's horrifying hardships like being attacked by the KKK.

    I think William Haines would be a fascinating subject for a film.

    Posted by: GregV | May 11, 2011 12:54:52 PM

  14. If they were making the life story of Bronson Pinchot (Balki from "Perfect Strangers") the guy would be perfectly cast and a dead ringer. But as Sal Mineo I totally don't see it.

    Posted by: ggreen | May 11, 2011 1:03:15 PM

  15. The wrong actor has been cast . . . Alexis Cruz, formerly of "Touched By An Angel", is the only actor who can play Sal Mineo who, BTW, was bisexual. Let's stop being so lazy and misidentifying Bi and Transsexual individuals as Gay. The confusion doesn't do our struggle any good.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | May 11, 2011 1:22:32 PM

  16. Kind of agree with the other comments: this man is not pretty enough to play Sal Mineo.

    Posted by: MickJr | May 11, 2011 1:55:22 PM

  17. Stuffed Animal seems to be right. Mineo's website includes an interview in which he refer to the rumors that he's gay, and says that he (like "probably most" men) is bi, and that he has a couple of women in every port -- and a couple of men, too.

    Posted by: gregv | May 11, 2011 2:01:41 PM

  18. Oh James.... considering the movie's primary audience is going to be gay men (like it or not), you *really* should have asked some of your gay friends to help you cast this role.

    I definitely agree with the above comments that Lauren, while reasonably attractive, just isn't "cute" enough to play Sal.

    Not sure Dave Franco would've made a much better choice, other than the fact that he's immeasurably more watchable for 100-minute flick than Lauren could be.

    Posted by: sparks | May 11, 2011 3:36:07 PM

  19. Is this a joke? If the cast of Jersey Shore had a Cousin geri, it'd probably be played by this guy.

    Posted by: KT | May 11, 2011 5:03:13 PM

  20. I would have to see other shots of this guy before I comment on the casting-and how much gay sex is this film going to have? Yes the very cool and tragic Sal was bi- is Franco going to cameo as Dean or better yet Don Jhonson

    Posted by: jaragon | May 11, 2011 6:04:18 PM

  21. Goodness me there's a bunch of wankers here. The resemblance isn't really that far off, and maybe what Franco was looking at was his ACTING. Also, with what can be done with makeup and costuming these days is pretty amazing. Now I know decent acting in films isn't important for vacuous twits such as yourselves, but for some people, it matters.

    Posted by: Josh | May 11, 2011 7:32:33 PM

  22. Biopics about actors are about as necessary as vestigial toes. How about an epic about the Emperor Nero, Mr. Franco? That's a movie I'd actually want to see!

    Posted by: Josh | May 11, 2011 8:18:16 PM

  23. Aw, man! Remi Malek would have been PERFECT as Mineo. Why did Franco choose this joker? The eyes are right, but overall the look is pure Jersey Shore. Malek has everything to play Mineo: the soulful Mediterranean looks, the slight stature, the acting chops... Jesus, this film is going to blow and not in a good way.

    Posted by: fritanga | May 11, 2011 10:33:55 PM

  24. He doesn't look like Sal to me even closely. He's going to have to tan as well because Sal had a nice natural darker skin tone

    Posted by: TylerAnthony | May 12, 2011 8:57:04 AM

  25. @GREGV Have you heard about the off-Broadway play "Finding Billy Haines"? I saw it last year. It was sweet, and the flashbacks to Billy meeting his hubby were so touching.

    Posted by: BK7BMB | May 12, 2011 10:32:41 AM

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