Jimmy Smagula Joins Nicholas Hoult’s ‘Rebel in the Rye’

Jimmy Smagula will star opposite Nicholas Hoult in the J.D. Salinger biopic “Rebel in the Rye,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Smagula will portray John Woodburn, the editor at Little, Brown and Company. Woodburn is best remembered for agreeing to publish “Catcher in the Rye” in 1951 after it had been turned down by several other publishers and The New Yorker magazine.

The book has sold more than 65 million copies, thanks to its unique portrayal of teenage angst by the novel’s protagonist Holden Caulfield.

Hoult will star as Salinger alongside Kevin Spacey, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber, Hope Davis and Brian D’Arcy James. “Empire” co-creator Danny Strong is directing from his own script, adapted from the Kenneth Slawenski biography “JD Salinger: A Life.”

Hoult was cast last year to play Salinger at the point in his life during which he progressed toward writing “Catcher in the Rye.” Spacey will play Whit Burnett, a professor at Columbia and editor of Story magazine who became a mentor.

Producers are Strong, Bruce Cohen, Jason Shuman, Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill.

Smagula’s television credits include “The It Factor,” “Bones,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Rizzoli and Isles,”  “Parks and Recreation,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Sopranos.” Film credits include “The Island,” “Step Up 3” and “The Producers.”

Smagula also starred in seven Broadway shows including “The Full Monty,” “The Phantom of the Opera”  and “Billy Elliot.” He is repped by Talent House LA and Gary Ousdahl at Advanced Management.

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