Sean Penn Confirmed to Direct THE COMEDIAN Starring Robert De Niro and Kristen Wiig

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Back in June, we reported the rumor that Sean Penn was looking to direct the character-driven drama The Comedian, with Robert De Niro to possibly star. Now it looks like things worked out, as it was announced today that Penn will indeed be directing De Niro in the pic, and they’ve found their female lead in Kristen Wiig. The project previously caught the eye of Martin Scorsese, and centers on an aging insult comic in the vein of Don Rickles and Joan Rivers. De Niro’s character “clings to any recognition that comes from his days as a beloved TV character as he tries to reignite his stagnant career. Sentenced to community service for hitting a heckler in the head with a microphone, the comic meets Harmony, a dazzling and defiant redhead who turns his life sideways.”

The script comes from Art Linson (What Just Happened) and comedian Jeffrey Ross. This definitely sounds like an intriguing project, and Penn’s involvement brings quite a bit of weight to the material. It’s been a while since we’ve seen De Niro take on such a nuanced and complex character, and his pairing with the massively talented Wiig is an inspired choice. Penn was last behind the camera on 2007’s excellent Into the Wild. Production on The Comedian is set to get underway next spring. [Update: We've been sent the full press release, which is now included after the jump]

sean-penn-imageHere’s the full press release:

(LOS ANGELES) October 27, 2011 – FilmNation Entertainment announced today that they will handle international sales for THE COMEDIAN. The drama will be directed by Sean Penn (Into the Wild) and will star two-time Academy Award® winner Robert De Niro and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids). Written by Art Linson with Jeffrey Ross, the movie will be produced by Art Linson (Into the Wild), John Linson, Jon Kilik and Robert De Niro. Shannon Costello will be associate producing.

Production is slated to start in Spring 2012.

Jackie Burke (De Niro) is a raging comic who is past his prime. A once loved TV character in his hey day, he clings to any recognition of his former fame in the hope of reviving his now stagnant career. After being sentenced to community service for hitting an audience member in the head with his microphone, Jackie meets Harmony (Wiig), a dazzling and defiant redhead who turns his life sideways.

“We’re so excited to be working with such an amazingly talented group of filmmakers on this movie. It simply doesn’t get much better than this, especially for us New Yorkers!,” said FilmNation Entertainment’s CEO Glen Basner.

CAA will represent domestic rights to the film.




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  • Ken

    I haven’t read the script, but it seems like a good idea to use 15 year old comic and up-and-coming actor Joey Bragg as an opposite to De Niro’s aging comedian Character. The kid is REALLY good (just check out his youtube video’s or catch him live at your local comedy club) and could prove to be really frustrating for an aging has-been to have to work with.

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