Jared Leto will play Hugh Hefner in the upcoming biopic by director Brett Ratner. This news follows shortly after Hefner passed away last week at his home after suffering cardiac arrest and respiratory failure at the age of 91.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Ratner, who told them Leto is an old friend of his. Ratner said when he initially got rights to Hefner’s story, Leto had told him he wished to play the role and wanted to understand Hefner. Saying Leto is one of today’s great actors, Ratner said he really believes Leto can play the role.

Director had hoped to introduce Jared Leto to Hugh Hefner

Ratner said he had hoped to introduce the “Blade Runner 2049” actor to the man himself. However, at that time Hefner was suffering poor health and was not accepting visitors. Ratner had invited Leto to visit the Playboy Mansion in April of this year when the “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner story” docuseries premiered on the occasion of Hefner’s 91st birthday.

However despite the fact the “Suicide Squad” actor didn’t get to meet the Playboy founder in person, the director says he is not too worried, as there is plenty of footage of Hefner available to give Leto all the information he needs to play the role.

Hugh Hefner biopic in early stages of development

It will be a while before the biopic is released, however, as it is still in early development. Ratner, initially started planning the movie back in 2007 with Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures. At that stage, Robert Downey Jr. was picked to play the role of the Playboy founder.

However when the rights to the story expired, producer Jerry Weintraub picked them up for Warner Bros. When Weintraub passed away back in 2015, Ratner managed to snag the rights back again, but this time for his own company, RatPac Entertainment.

He says he now plans the motion picture to be an “event.”

The New York Daily News quotes Hefner’s son, Cooper, as saying in a statement that his father’s life had been “exceptional and impactful,” both as a cultural and media pioneer and also as a voice behind many social and cultural movements of the time. He said his father advocated civil rights, free speech and sexual freedom. Cooper went on to say Hefner had defined an ethos and lifestyle that were at the heart of the Playboy brand, which he said it one of the most enduring and recognizable in history.

As for Leto, he is well known for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” where he played an HIV-positive transgender woman and went on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He also played the Joker in “Suicide Squad” and is now starring in the upcoming film “Blade Runner 2049.”