EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Spacey has been set to star with Nicholas Hoult in Rebel In The Rye, the Black Label Media drama about the formative years of The Catcher In The Rye author J.D. Salinger. Empire exec producer Danny Strong is directing the script he adapted based on the Kenneth Slawenski biography JD Salinger: A Life.

Hoult was set last fall to play Salinger as he progressed toward writing the seminal novel of the 20th Century. Spacey will play Whit Burnett, a professor at Columbia and editor of Story magazine. He became a mentor and was the first to challenge the young Salinger, inspiring him to grow as a storyteller. Black Label Media is financing and Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill are producing alongside Bruce Cohen (who teamed with Spacey when they both won Oscars on American Beauty), Jason Shuman and Strong. Bloom began selling foreign at Toronto, and CAA is repping North American rights.

Danny StrongThis comes as Spacey and his Trigger Street partner Dana Brunetti prepare to take the reins of Relativity Media after Ryan Kavanaugh steers that company through bankruptcy and into reboot mode early next month. As Spacey told Deadline, he will continue to selectively act in feature productions and House of Cards, something he did while running the Old Vic. The fourth season of House of Cards begins March 4 on Netflix, and Spacey plays Richard Nixon in the Liza Johnson-directed Elvis & Nixon. He’s also filming Billionaire Boys Club and Baby Driver this year. Spacey is repped by CAA and Joanne Horowitz.

5 months
Congrats Danny!

Black Label Media is hot off the Denis Villeneuve-directed Sicario and next up is the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed Demolition,  starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts for Fox Searchlight Pictures.