Sean Penn to co-star in Malick drama

Brad Pitt is in talks to climb into “Tree of Life,” a drama Terrence Malick wrote and will direct.

River Road is financing, and Bill Pohlad is producing with Sarah Green (“The New World”) and Grant Hill.

Pitt, who recently ankled the Universal Pictures drama “State of Play,” would replace Heath Ledger, who was skedded to star with Sean Penn in the Malick-directed drama, which begins production in the spring. Though Penn is booked to play the title character in the Gus Van Sant-directed “Milk,” he’s still expected to play a supporting role in “Tree of Life.” Penn has an allegiance to River Road’s Pohlad, who co-financed with Paramount Vantage the Penn-directed “Into the Wild.”No deals have been made with Pitt or Penn. Pitt would have earned $20 million against gross to star in “State of Play,” but he’ll likely sign on to “Tree of Life” for nearly no upfront money.

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