The cast of “Howl,” a biopic starring James Franco as iconic beatnik writer Allen Ginsberg, has just grown by five.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paul Rudd, Alan Alda, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels and Mary-Louise Parker are attached to portray real-life characters in the 1950s-era film, which focuses on the obscenity trial launched to censor Ginsberg’s groundbreaking book-length poem.
Rudd (“Knocked Up”) will play literary critic and defense witness Luther Nichols, while Alda (TV’s “The West Wing”) will play Judge Clayton Horn.
The other three have signed on to portray various players on the side of the prosecution — Strathairn (“Good Night and Good Luck”) as prosecuting attorney Ralph McIntosh, Daniels (“Traitor”) as prosecution witness Professor David Kirk and Parker (TV’s “Weeds”) as radio personality and prosecution witness Gail Potter.
Gus Van Sant is executive producing, while documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt”) are making their narrative debuts as the movie’s directors, writers and producers.
“Fifty years later, Ginsberg’s vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it,” Friedman said in a statement released Tuesday.
“It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion.”
Franco, whose comedy “Pineapple Express” is currently in theatres, will next appear in the romantic drama “Nights in Rodanthe” and Van Sant’s Harvey Milk biopic, “Milk.”