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Jared Leto to play Hugh Hefner in biopic

Jared Leto will portray late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in a new biopic. (WENN.com)

Jared Leto will portray late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in a new biopic. (WENN.com)

Oscar winner Jared Leto will portray late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in a new biopic.

Movie mogul Brett Ratner, who will direct the film, has announced Leto approached him about the role shortly after he picked up the rights to Hef’s life story -- and asked to play the publisher, who died on Sept. 27, aged 91.

“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.”

Ratner, who will also produce the project under his RatPac Entertainment banner, has been steering the biopic for a decade, and at one point Robert Downey, Jr. was attached to play Hefner.

When the rights to the film expired, they were snapped up by producer Jerry Weintraub, then Ratner picked them up after the movie mogul died in 2015.

“My goal is to do the motion picture as an event,” Brett shares.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ratner invited Leto to the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles back in April for the premiere of Amazon’s docu-series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story. Ratner had hoped to introduce Leto to the man he’d be playing on the big screen, but Hefner was in failing health and not greeting guests.

But the filmmaker insists a meeting wasn’t necessary: “There’s enough footage on Hef out there that Jared will be able to get as much information as he wants.”

Ratner also plans to reboot the Hefner-hosted, late-1960s talk show Playboy After Dark.