Sean Penn In Talks To Direct Robert De Niro In The Comedian

By Eric Eisenberg 2011-06-15 20:46:25discussion comments
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We've been teased about a Robert De Niro/Martin Scorsese reunion for months now. In December the director said that The Irishman, a movie about mobster Frank Sheeran that has had De Niro attached for years, would be his next project. That dream was dashed, however, when it was reported that he will be making the Jesuit priest movie Silence next. Hopes were raised again a couple weeks ago when it was rumored that the two would be working together on The Comedian, but guess what? That's not happening either.

The New York Post has learned that it won't be Scorsese that directs The Comedian, but rather that Sean Penn is now looking to take the helm with De Niro still attached to star (Variety has since confirmed the story). Based on a script by Art Linson and comedian Jeffrey Ross, the film is about a "aging, bitterly funny stand-up comic." The project will be Penn's first directorial effort since 2007's Into The Wild, which earned two Oscar nominations. The film marks the debut for Ross, who is largely known for his roles in Friar's Club and Comedy Central roasts, but Linson previously wrote What Just Happened?, which also starred De Niro. Production is scheduled to begin next year in New York.

While the movie is supposedly a healthy mix of both comedy and drama, I'm wondering how the laughs will be affected by Penn's presence. Sure, the man used to be known as Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but seems to have lost his sense of humor over the years (case in point: this performance from the 2005 Oscars). Scorsese may be known as a hard hitting director, but even his serious films have moments of levity. It will be interesting to see how the final product turns out.
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