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Nicholas Hoult to play JD Salinger in Rebel in the Rye

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Sarah Dunn

Nicholas Hoult will soon be coming through the rye.

The Mad Max: Fury Road and Warm Bodies star is set to play reclusive author J.D. Salinger in the biographical drama Rebel in the Rye, Bloom Media announced Monday.

Written and directed by Danny Strong (one of the creators of Fox’s Empire), the film is based on Kenneth Slawenski’s biography J.D. Salinger: A Life. The big-screen adaptation will chronicle Salinger’s rebellious youth, his experiences on the front lines of World War II, his rise to literary stardom as the author of the seminal novel The Catcher in the Rye, and his subsequent rejection of the limelight.

Bloom will be introducing the project to foreign buyers at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, while CAA is representing North American rights. Bloom chief Alex Walton said in a statement, “The Catcher in the Rye is a classic coming of age story which continues to make a significant impression six generations later. The world has long been fascinated with J.D. Salinger, who the talented Nicholas Hoult will bring to life, in this enigmatic role.”

Salinger, who died in 2010, didn’t permit film adaptations of his work after his short story “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” was made into the dud My Foolish Heart in 1949. Even so, his stories and characters have influenced countless feature films (The Graduate, The Royal Tenenbaums, Igby Goes Down), and his life was explored in the 2013 documentary Salinger. That film’s director, Shane Salerno, is also developing a rival Salinger biopic with the Weinstein Co.

As for Hoult, the English actor who first broke out in About a Boy, he’s been keeping a busy schedule of late: His upcoming films include the music-biz satire Kill Your Friends, the sci-fi romance Equals, and the superhero tentpole X-Men: Apocalypse.

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