Last week saw the end of an era with the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Passing away at the age of 91, the man left a clear mark on pop culture that we cannot ignore. In fact, even after his death, it looks like his status as an icon has not diminished. On that note, we have officially learned that Oscar-winner Jared Leto is now set to portray him in an upcoming biopic directed by Brett Ratner.
Less than a week after the passing of Playboy legend Hugh Hefner, it has officially been announced that Suicide Squad star Jared Leto will step into the smoking jacket to play the polarizing icon on the silver screen. Brett Ratner is set to direct and produce the film and even tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce Leto and Hefner as recently as last April -- though Hefner's ailing health made such an introduction impossible. The project has been in development on and off for the better part of the last decade, with Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. attached to portray Hefner at one point.
Although Jared Leto never actually received his chance to meet Hugh Hefner, people associated with the project continue to seem enthused about his potential to step into the role. As Hefner had become a widely recognizable public figure in the decades between founding Playboy and his passing in September, there's quite a bit of audio and visual material for Leto to pull from in his research.
As far as biopics go, this is far from Jared Leto's first time delving into the life of a real individual. With his turns as John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27, as well as his performance as Steve Prefontaine in Prefontaine, he has certainly proven that he knows how to dive into the role of a real-life individual and inhabit that world. That said, Hugh Hefner is one of the most well-known, larger than life characters that Leto has ever taken on (real or otherwise), so it will undoubtedly prove fascinating to see how he handles the responsibility.
Looking beyond the Hugh Hefner biopic, THR also reports that Brett Ratner has other planned projects on the horizon to honor the Playboy founder. Specifically, the Rush Hour franchise helmer is currently in the process of rebooting Hefner's late-night talk show, Playboy After Dark. With several different irons in the fire, it looks like the name "Hugh Hefner" will continue to hold considerable weight in the Hollywood landscape for the foreseeable future.