The James Dean biopic was scrapped after the director thought Leonardo DiCaprio was “too young”.

Michael Mann has spoken of scrapping a “brilliant script” for a James Dean biopic he was set to direct.

Before the award-winning director’s 1995 film heathe had planned to make a film about the late actor, who died in a car accident in 1955 at the age of 24.

Dean starred in three films before his untimely death: Rebelling for no reason (1955)East of Eden (1955), and giant (1956). He died before production on the latter was completed, but received an Oscar posthumously.

man explained meeting in a new interview that the initial challenge was figuring out “who the hell could play James Dean.”

“And I found a guy who could play James Dean, but he was too young,” he said. “It was lion.”

“We did a screen test which is pretty amazing. I think he must have been 19 at the time. And from a certain angle, he totally had it. I mean, it’s brilliance,” praised Mann.

Leonardo DiCaprio and James Dean

(Getty Images)

“He turned his face one way and we saw a vision of James Dean, and then he turned his face another way and it was no, that’s a little kid.”

DiCaprio’s breakthrough film roles included those from 1993 What does Gilbert Grape eat?, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in 1996 and 1997 titanic, alongside Kate Winslet.

The 47-year-old actor stars in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming crime drama. Killer of the Flower Moonto be released in May 2023.

In the meantime, Mann is currently planning to adapt his recently published book heat 2 – a sequel to his 1995 classic – into a “great ambitious film”. The James Dean biopic was scrapped after the director thought Leonardo DiCaprio was “too young”.


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