By Josh Rottenberg
Updated June 23, 2011 at 10:17 PM EDT

Earlier this week, Paramount Pictures announced that Warren Beatty is set to direct and star in a film for the studio later this year, marking his fifth time out as director in more than 30 years. Details about the project were scant, and no doubt the famously press-shy and secretive Beatty would have loved to keep it that way. But Deadline has since reported that Beatty will play legendary and larger-than-life business magnate and film producer Howard Hughes, and EW has confirmed that Alec Baldwin, Shia LaBeouf, and Rooney Mara are all in discussions to co-star in the film. Evan Rachel Wood, Andrew Garfield, Jack Nicholson, and Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, are also reported to be in talks.

Beatty has been interested in making a film about Hughes for a good 20 years. The earlier part of Hughes’ life was the subject of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, but, aside from Jonathan Demme’s fictionalized fable Melvin and Howard, the story of the latter-day Hughes — who became a near-total recluse, living in penthouse suites and picking up things with tissue paper to avoid germs — has not yet been brought to the big screen.

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