James Franco Casts Actor Val Lauren in Sal Mineo Biopic
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.