De Niro is attached to star in the dramedy

Sean Penn may have found his next directorial vehicle, as the “Into the Wild” helmer is in early talks to direct Robert De Niro in “The Comedian.”

De Niro is attached to star as an insult comic in the vein of Don Rickles and Joan Rivers, though there’s no shortage of drama amid the laughs.

Art Linson wrote the script and is set to produce, while New York Friars’ Club member Jeffrey Ross, best known as Comedy Central’s Roastmaster General, helped Linson write the protag’s stand-up routines.

De Niro previously played a very different kind of comic in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 pic “The King of Comedy.” He and Linson have a long history, as the latter produced “The Untouchables” and “Heat,” while De Niro played a fictional version of Linson in 2008’s “What Just Happened.” That film co-starred Penn, who De Niro previously worked with on Neil Jordan’s 1989 comedy “We’re No Angels.”

“The Comedian” doesn’t have a start date yet, but financing is in place.

CAA-repped Penn is set to start filming Warner Bros.’ crime pic “Gangster Squad” this fall. He can currently be seen in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and next stars in Paolo Sorrentino’s revenge drama “This Must Be the Place.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more