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Sean Penn to play Max Perkins? Who gets to be Hemingway?

Sean-PennImage Credit: Pixplanete/PR PhotosFor some reason, Hollywood actors love to play writers, especially from the 1920s and 30s. Jane Fonda wore lots of tweeds and smoked lots of cigarettes as Lillian Hellman in 1977’s Julia. Jennifer Jason Leigh learned to mumble like Dorothy Parker in 1994’s Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Anthony Hopkins stopped shaving to star in Hemingway & Fuentes, an upcoming drama directed by Andy Garcia about Ernest’s friendship with the boat captain who inspired The Old Man and the Sea. But Sean Penn could be the first to slip into the role of a famous literary editor: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Penn is in talks to play Max Perkins, the legendary Scribner’s editor who discovered Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and a slew of other early 20th Century authors you probably wrote book reports about in high school.

A biopic on Perkins has been percolating in Hollywood for awhile – at one point Lawrence Kasdan was attached to direct – but never got off the ground. This incarnation, based on Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, the 1978 biography by A. Scott Berg, is titled Genius, and will be directed by producer Bill Pohlad (whose only other gig behind the camera was a 1990 indie movie called Old Explorers). As for who will be joining Penn in the cast – we’re guessing every big star in Hollywood will be itching for a chance to play Perkins’ writers. How about Philip Seymour Hoffman as Wolfe, Russell Crowe as Hemingway, and Brad Pitt as Fitzgerald? Or, if you want to go younger and funnier, Jack Black as Hemingway, Jonah Hill as Wolfe, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fitzgerald? More testosterone? How about Sylvester Stallone as Hemingway, Bruce Willis as Wolfe, and Jason Statham as Fitzgerald?

We could do this all day, Popwatchers. But why don’t you tell us who you think should play Perkins’ pals in Genius.

Originally posted August 4 2010 — 4:35 PM EDT

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