‘The Professor and the Madman’ Trailer: Mel Gibson and Sean Penn Craft the Oxford English Dictionary

Written by on March 12, 2019 

In a bit of against-type casting, The Professor and The Madman stars Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, but Gibson is, in fact, not playing the latter character. Rather, in the story of crafting the Oxford English Dictionary, he plays Professor James Murray, who took up the challenge only to discover that one man (Penn), convicted for murder and at an asylum for the criminally insane, submitted over 10,000 words.

Although production on the film began back in 2016, it was caught up in legal troubles, and now with Apocalypto co-screenwriter Farhad Safinia, who helmed the film, taking his name off the project (now credited to the fictitious P.B. Shemran), it’s finally seeing the light of day. The film will be arriving in other countries (Croatia, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lithuania, Belgium, the Netherlands) this spring, though Vertical Entertainment has not yet announced a U.S. release date. The first international trailer has now arrived for the adaptation of Simon Winchester’s novel.

Also starring Natalie Dormer, Steve Coogan, Eddie Marsan, David O’Hara, Stephen Dillane, Jennifer Ehle, Ioan Gruffudd, Jeremy Irvine, and Brendan Patricks, see the trailer and poster below.

Based on the worldwide best-selling novel by Simon Winchester, THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN is an extraordinary true tale of madness, genius, and obsession about two remarkable men who created history with the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857 and was one of the most ambitious, and revolutionary projects ever undertaken. Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson) took on the challenge of creating the most comprehensive dictionary ever compiled, but knew that it would take him and his team over a century to compile all known definitions. However, by “crowd sourcing” the work, that is, by enlisting definitions from people all over the world, the dictionary could be compiled in mere decades.

As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor (Sean Penn), had submitted more than ten thousand words. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was a convicted murderer and being held at an asylum for the criminally insane.

The Professor and the Madman is awaiting a U.S. release date.


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