Hugh Hefner passed away earlier this week, but Hollywood is already hard at work immortalizing his legacy. Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand, Rush Hour) has been developing a film about the legendary entrepreneur for nearly a decade; tentatively titled Playboy, the film was stuck in development hell for years, but now it's moving forward with an Oscar-winning star.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, #JaredLeto has been cast as Hugh Hefner for the upcoming, untitled biopic. Speaking to THR, Ratner said this about Leto's casting: "Jared is an old friend. When he heard I got the rights to Hef's story, he told me, 'I want to play him. I want to understand him.' And I really believe Jared can do it. He's one of the great actors of today."
There's a curious story behind Leto's involvement in the film. He was actually cast months ago, and according to #BrettRatner, the director invited the actor to the Playboy Mansion to watch Amazon's American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story back in April. The director wanted Hefner and Leto to meet, but Hefner wasn't doing well, so the meeting never happened.
Thankfully, that won't affect Leto's performance at all, because, as Ratner put it, there's plenty of material to help him get into character: "There's enough footage on Hef out there that Jared will be able to get as much information as he wants."
Leto as Hugh Hefner is one of those castings that never crossed my mind, but I can totally see him pull off the part, both physically and personality-wise.
There Was Quite A Long Road To Get This Biopic Made
This film has been years in the making, and its development process can only be considered a rollercoaster ride. Shortly after the release of Iron Man, it was reported that Hugh Hefner had picked Tony Stark himself, #RobertDowneyJr., to play him. The casting went beyond wish-fulfillment, though, because during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brett Ratner revealed Downey Jr. had already signed on, stating:
"Robert Downey Jr. agreed to do it based on the script. We're gonna hand him the script very shortly. He loves the character and the role and we’ve been meeting with him on it. So, if he wants to do it, we're excited to have him. We wanted him before 'Iron Man' so we were ahead of the curve."
But as fate would have it, just as it seemed like the project was coming along nicely, a script couldn't be put together in time and the film fell apart. RatPac's rights for the biopic eventually expired, and the project was snagged by Jerry Weintraub (The Karate Kid). Weintraub, however, passed away in 2015, and the rights were quickly reacquired by Ratner.
Now, we're here. Ratner has been considered a hit-and-miss director in recent years, but I'm hopeful that he, alongside Jared Leto, will be able to deliver a great product and do justice to Hefner's complicated story.
You can see Leto in Blade Runner 2049, opening October 6.
What do you think about Jared Leto being cast as Hugh Hefner? Do you think he's the right choice for the part? Let me know in the comments!