Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Professor and the Madman: Natalie Dormer joins Mel Gibson, Sean Penn drama

Posted on

Steve Granitz/WireImage; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images; Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer is plotting a return to the big screen with a starring role in the upcoming Mel Gibson/Sean Penn drama The Professor and the Madman, EW has confirmed.

Adapted from Simon Winchester’s book of the same name (originally titled The Surgeon of Crowthorne), Professor and the Madman chronicles the true story behind the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Penn is set for the role of Dr. W.C. Minor, an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane, who initially submitted approximately 10,000 entries for inclusion in a compilation curated by Professor James Murray (Gibson) in 1857. Murray’s work would later evolve to become the OED.

Dormer will play the widow of a man killed by Penn’s character. According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported news of Dormer’s casting, a “complicated romance” ensures as Minor attempts to help the woman’s family. 

Gibson acquired the rights to Winchester’s book all the way back in 1998. He initially intended to direct the film as the follow-up to his Oscar-winning 1995 epic Braveheart, though he ultimately opted to tackle 2004’s The Passion of the Christ instead. Gibson’s Apocalypto co-screenwriter, Farhad Safinia, will direct in his place.

Voltage Pictures, the company behind recent awards season powerhouses like The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, will shop the film to potential buyers at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival in September. Production reportedly kicks off the following month in Europe.

A release date for The Professor and the Madman has not yet been announced.