Nicholas Hoult has been cast as legendary author J.D. Salinger for writer-director Danny Strong’s drama Rebel In The Rye. Adapted from the Kenneth Slawenski-penned biography J.D. Salinger: A Life, the pic the tells the story of the life and mind of the legendary and secretive author and of the birth of the iconic book The Catcher In The Rye. The picture is being produced by Strong (who wrote the screenplay for Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook, American Beauty) with Black Label Media execs whose company is financing. Those include Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill. (Black Label’s previous films include The Blind Side and Begin Again). Jason Shuman is also producing.

Bloom is handling international sales on the film ahead of Toronto Film Festival. CAA is repping rights in North America.

Hoult, whose credits include Mad Max: Fury Road as well as X-Men: Days Of Future Past, will bring the famed author to life. The writer’s seminal work was Catcher In The Rye — whose rebellious protagonist Holden Caulfield captured a generation of disenchanted youth. Although the 1951 novel soared to literary heights, much like To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee, he then left the publishing world behind. He was the youngest of two children, his mother a Scot and his father the son of a rabbi.

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jdsalinger3The author ended up in a life of seclusion after a rebellious youth and seeing the horrors of World War II where he ended up on Utah Beach and was part of the notorious Battle of the Bulge (which was known for its hand-to-hand combat and brutality; in fact, they executed a lot of the prisoners in front of other soldiers). He suffered badly from PTSD and was hospitalized after a nervous breakdown. While there, he met a woman (who was rumored to have a Nazi past) and they married but that was short-lived.

Strong is known best for co-creating with Daniels the hit Fox show Empire, in which he has written and directed multiple episodes of the ratings and pop culture phenomenon. In addition he has written the screenplays for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2. He also won an Emmy for the HBO film Game Change. (He also wrote Recount for the cablecaster).

Meanwhile, Cannes marked the world premiere of Black Label Media’s Sicario from director Denis Villeneuve. That one starred Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro. The film will have its North American debut at Toronto along with Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts which will open the festival next month.

The Bloom slate includes: Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Woodshock starring Kirsten Dunst and distributed in the U.S. by A24, and Liza Johnson’s Elvis & Nixon starring Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon, which will be distributed in the U.S. by Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street. In addition, they have Shane Black’s detective thriller The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling for Warner Bros.; Michael Apted‘s Unlocked starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom; and Renny Harlin’s Skiptrace starring Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville.

Hoult is represented by UTA, 42 and Felker Toczek.