Actor Jared Leto’s next movie role is going to be Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Rush Hour series director Brett Ratner will direct the untitled film, which sounds like it’s still a long time out.
Ratner told THR that Leto came to him when he heard that Ratner obtained the film rights to Hugh Hefner’s story. Leto reportedly told Ratner, ‘I want to play him. I want to understand him.'” Ratner said he believes Leto has what it takes to excel in the role.
According to THR, the Hugh Hefner movie is only in the early stages of development. Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment originally had the rights to Hefner’s life story in 2007, and Robert Downey Jr. was at one point slotted to play Hefner. The rights later expired and Ocean’s 11 producer Jerry Weintraub picked them up for Warner Bros. Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment obtained the rights after Weintraub died in 2015.
Hefner and Leto were expected to meet at the Playboy Mansion in April for the premiere of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story. However, Hefner wasn’t taking guests that day apparently due to his failing health. Hefner died on September 27 at the age of 91.
Ratner said he’s confident there is enough footage of Hefner available that Leto will be able to “get as much information as he wants.”
Hefner’s cause of death was confirmed today by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. According to EW, he died of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure after contracting a blood infection called septicemia and drug-resistant e. coli.