05/11/2011 06:15 am ET | Updated Jul 11, 2011

Val Lauren As Sal Mineo In New James Franco Biopic Of Late Actor

A young James Franco's first mainstream success came with his hauntingly real, Golden Globe-winning portrayal of worldwide icon James Dean. Now, a bonafide superstar intent on making his mark as a director, he's turning his gaze back toward the Rebel Without A Cause for his newest project.

Franco, who will direct an upcoming biopic about actor Sal Mineo, has cast actor Val Lauren in the role, according to The Hollywood Reporter; in December, Franco optioned the rights to a 2001 biography of Mineo, best known as Dean's troubled sidekick in "Rebel Without A Cause."

Mineo, who was murdered in 1976, broke ground as one of Hollywood's first openly gay actors. A two time-Oscar nominee, his frantic, vulnerable Plato won him vast praise and drove his career until he was too old to play the teen role.

The project is just one of many that Franco is taking on as he transitions to a career behind the camera; he'll also be helming a big screen adaptation of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," directing and starring in Cormac McCarthy book-to-film "Blood Meridian," and taking on the same responsibilities for "The Night Stalker," a film about Richard Ramirez, the 80's Bay Area serial killer.

This will be by far the biggest role for Lauren, who has largely participated in indie films and theater.

For more, click over to The Hollywood Reporter.

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