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By: Renee Grant

Just a week after the passing of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner at the age of 91, it has been announced that Jared Leto has been chosen to star in a biopic about the mogul. The film will be directed by Brett Ratner.

“Jared is an old friend,” Ratner tells The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

The movie is still in the early development phase, but Ratner has been angling to work on the project since 2007. Robert Downey Jr. was once in the running to play the starring role. The rights have changed hands quite a bit, finally landing with Ratner.

“My goal is to do the motion picture as an event,” he says, which could be just that now that the larger-than-life Hefner has passed away.

Leto and Ratner attended the premiere of Amazon’s docuseries American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story in April, part of Hef’s 91st birthday celebration. Ratner hoped that Leto would have been able to meet Hefner then, but he was in poor health and accepting visitors.

Ratner also plans to revive Hefner’s late-60’s talk show Playboy After Dark.

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