Penn and Damon in Van Sant’s Milk Biopic?

Sean Penn is attached to play openly gay ’70s politician Harvey Milk and Matt Damon is attached to play Milk’s killer, Dan White, in the director Gus Van Sant’s long-gestating Milk biopic.

The Hollywood Reporter says producer Michael London and his Groundswell Productions are financing the film, set to be produced by Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks from a script by Dustin Lance Black (“Big Love”).

The team behind the as-yet-untitled feature hopes to begin production in San Francisco as early as December. The uncertain start date may affect Damon’s participation.

It’s the latest chapter in a long-running race to film the biopic of Milk.

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray) have attempted to produce a big-screen version of Randy Shilts’ 1982 bio “The Mayor of Castro Street” for more than 15 years. Warner Bros. Pictures attached Singer to the project two years ago under executive Polly Cohen.

This summer, Warner Independent Pictures signed a deal with Participant Productions to co-finance that project and brought in Singer’s “Usual Suspects” screenwriter Chris McQuarrie to write a new draft of the script. But McQuarrie is now in Germany with Singer working on Valkyrie and also working on the “Castro” script, making an immediate production start less likely to happen before Singer starts his “Superman” sequel commitment.

In an ironic twist, Van Sant once wrote a draft of the “Castro” project and was set to direct his adaptation for Warners.

Damon would play White, who shot San Francisco city supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978. After serving five years of a seven-year sentence, White committed suicide in 1985.


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