A film about legendary author JD Salinger is coming to the big screen. Black Label Media announced today that it is financing an adaptation of the Kenneth Slawenski biography JD Salinger: A Life called Rebel in the Rye with Lee Daniels’ The Butler scribe Danny Strong writing and making his feature directing debut and Nicholas Hoult starring as the author.
The film aims to tell the story of the birth of Salinger’s classic novel Catcher in the Rye, tracing Salinger’s journey through his “rebellious youth, the bloody front lines of World War II, enduring great love and terrible loss, a life of rejection to the pages of The New Yorker, and the PTSD-fueled writer’s block which led to a spiritual awakening.” Salinger’s time serving in WWII and brief marriage to Sylvia Welter in Germany greatly influenced his written works that would follow, so this should make for a fascinating story.
Hoult is coming off stellar work in this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road and has a starring role opposite Kristen Stewart in Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance Equals on the horizon. He also returns in next May’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and the actor’s shown a propensity for imbuing his characters with a sensitivity and empathy that makes them relatable, so I’m looking forward to seeing his take on the rough-around-the-edges Salinger.
Strong is an actor and writer best known for his onscreen appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mad Men, but who recently has come into his own as a screenwriter on films like Game Change and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2. He co-created the hit Fox drama series Empire with his The Butler director Lee Daniels, and made his directorial debut on an episode of the show’s first season so he’s not entirely untested as a filmmaker.
It’s unclear when production on Rebel in the Rye will begin, but domestic and international rights will be sold at the Toronto International Film Festival next week so it could come together rather soon.