About James Dean
James Dean is a 2001 biographical television film based on the life of the American actor of the same name. James Franco plays James Dean under the direction of Mark Rydell, who chronicles Dean’s rise from a struggling actor to an A-list movie star in 1950s Hollywood. The film’s supporting roles included director Rydell, Michael Moriarty, Valentina Cervi, Enrico Colantoni, and Amy Rydell.
The James Dean biopic began development at Warner Bros. in the early 1990s. At one point, Michael Mann was contracted to direct with Leonardo DiCaprio starring in the lead role. After Mann’s departure, Des McAnuff, Dennis Hopper and Milčo Mančevski were considered as directors. Mark Rydell was hired as director in 1996, but the film continued to languish in development hell.
Warner Bros. then decided to produce James Dean as a TV movie for Turner Network Television; both Warners and TNT are owned by Time Warner. James Franco was cast as Dean in May 2000 after a search that resulted in 500 auditions. Franco researched his role to more closely portray Dean. James Dean showed on TNT in the United States on August 5, 2001, receiving generally positive reviews from critics.