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James Franco has cast actor Val Lauren as the late bisexual Rebel Without A Cause star Sal Mineo in the biopic he plans to direct this summer.
The film, titled Sal, is Franco's adaptation of last year's acclaimed, comprehensive biography Sal Mineo by Michael Gregg Michaud. "It's very gratifying for me, after ten years of work, to see my book become a movie," Michaud tells The Advocate. "I'm anxious to see James's take on Sal's life story, and I'm very happy with the casting of Val."
Lauren is a veteran of episodic television, having appeared on Crossing Jordan, Hawaii Five-0, and Monk. Film credits include the 2003 independent film Dallas 362, and Help, a short film he wrote, directed, and produced. Coincidentally, Lauren also appeared in the 2001 television bio James Dean, in which Franco starred as the iconic actor, Mineo's costar in Rebel.
"Some fans of expressed a concern that he doesn't look like Sal," Michaud says. "Good casting does not mean finding a body double. Good casting has to do with finding an actor with the skill and fearlessness to become the character he will portray. This is always challenging, but especially so when an actor is supposed to play a real person - someone people physically recognize."
Michaud shares that he's worked closely with Lauren for several months. "He is committed to this role, and is working very diligently," Michaud says. "He has a very good understanding of Sal, and I believe it will translate well to film."