Sean Penn And Robert Pattinson Join Water For Elephants, Directed By Francis Lawrence

A couple months ago, when we heard that I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence was eying a movie based on the DC character Sgt. Rock, we noted that before he got to anything else he was likely to adapt Water for Elephants. Now we know that's exactly what he'll do. Scripted by Richard LaGravenese from Sara Gruen's novel, the film already had Reese Witherspoon attached to star. Now Sean Penn and Robert Pattinson are looking to sign on as well.

The book takes place during the Great Depression, and follows 21-year old Jacob, who joins a second-rate circus after the death of his parents. Having once planned to become a veterinarian, Jacob is entrusted with the outfit's mangy menagerie. He has to deal with impresario Uncle Al and animal trainer August, both of whom are crazy and eccentric. He falls in love with August's young wife Marlena, which naturally leads to trouble.

As Amazon says, "Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover." (So he's the movie's Captain Kirk? OK, why not?)

Pattinson would obviously play Jacob and Witherspoon Marlena. The question is whether Penn would be Uncle Al or paranoid schizophrenic August. Deadline Hollywood pegs him as "the other lead in the Depression-era romantic triangle, saying he's looking to play August. I'm OK with that; the role sounds like one that Penn could absolutely tear up, and hopefully he'd be able to have some fun with it rather than just playing dour and terrifying.

Deadline also notes that Witherspoon is looking at a role in This Means War, once meant as a Martin Lawrence vehicle but now revived with Bradley Cooper looking to star.