Jared Leto is set to play the late founder of Playboy Hugh Hefner in an upcoming biopic of the magazine mogul.
The actor will be donning the iconic silk dressing gown and pipe to portray Hef, who passed away on Sept 27 at the age 91.
The film is currently being developed by director Brett Ratner and his production company RatPac Entertainment.
Ratner has been itching to make a film about Hefner for a decade. The film was originally in talks at Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, with Robert Downey Jr. on board to play the legendary magnate.
Ratner said of the Leto casting:
Jared is an old friend. When he heard I got the right 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.
After Universal passed on the project, producer Jerry Weintraub (Ocean’s Eleven, HBO‘s Westworld) bagged the rights for Warner Bros. After Weintraub died in 2015, Ratner took the reigns and moved production over to his own company.
My goal is to do the motion picture as an event.
There’s enough footage on Hef out there that Jared will be able to get as much information as he wants.
Ratner invited Leto to the Playboy Mansion back in April to the premiere of Amazon’s docuseries American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story.
He hoped to introduce the actor to Hefner, but as he was in ill health opted against greeting guests that day.
Ratner also plans to remake the late-1960s talk show Playboy After Dark.
Hefner was born in April 1926 in Chicago to strict religious parents. He was an intelligent child with an IQ supposedly around 152, but his teachers called him ‘unenthusiastic’.
In high school he began a student newspaper and took up various humanitarian causes. He graduated in 1944 where he joined the Army as an infantry clerk and continued writing and drawing cartoons in military newspapers. He was discharged in 1946 and came up with the idea for Playboy.
After the Army he did a course at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to the University of Illinois where he edited a campus magazine called Shaft. There he created the ‘Coed of the Month’ section which would later shape his ideas for Playboy.
— Playboy (@Playboy) September 28, 2017
Hef focused on the issues of personal freedom and wrote a lengthy paper about sex laws in America. Despite struggling after college, Hefner managed to get a job at Esquire copywriting and moved to the offices in New York.
He asked for a $5 raise but was turned down and so Hef left. And then, in 1953, he managed to scrape together the money from family and friends to start Playboy.
His son Cooper Hefner said of his father’s death:
My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.
You can next see Jared Leto in Bladerunner 2049 which is released in the UK on October 6.