Brett Ratner's decade-strong desire to direct a Hugh Hefner biopic is finally coming together. Ratner, known (of course) for helming the Rush Hour trilogy and X-Men: The Last Stand, has tapped Jared Leto—the only Oscar winner who's less than a minute from Mars at any given moment—to play the late Playboy founder.
"Jared is an old friend," Ratner told the Hollywood Reporter Tuesday. "When he heard I got the rights to Hef's story, he told me, 'I want to play him. I want to understand him.' And I really believe Jared can do it. He's one of the great actors of today."
Ratner's RatPac Entertainment is developing the untitled project, the rights for which Ratner re-secured back in 2015 following the death of Ocean's Eleven producer Jerry Weintraub. Though Leto's involvement with the project is only just now being reported, he was attached as its star as far back as April of this year. That month, Ratner invited Leto to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for the premiere of the Amazon docuseries American Playboy with the intention of introducing the Blade Runner 2049 star to Hefner. Hefner, however, was not in good health at the time and ultimately didn't greet any guests during the premiere celebration. At one point, prior to Weintraub's temporary rights ownership, Robert Downey Jr. was in talks to play Hefner.
Hefner died last month at the age of 91. In a statement, Hefner's son—Playboy Enterprises CCO Cooper Hefner—remembered his father as someone who "defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history."
Leto will likely never see the Hefner biopic in which he's starring, as he doesn't typically make a habit of watching his own films. In a recent interview with Syfy Wire, Leto revealed he still hasn't seen Suicide Squad.