The Professor and the Madman Trailer

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have both had their fair share of headline-making controversies in Hollywood, and now the two are teaming up to don some epic beards and write the Oxford English Dictionary in a new period drama called The Professor and the Madman. However, the movie itself had a controversy of its own that resulted in a legal battle over whether it would actually see the light of day. Watch The Professor and the Madman trailer, and find out why you almost didn’t see it, below.

The Professor and the Madman Trailer

The Professor and the Madman follows Mel Gibson as Professor James Murray, who has taken on the immense task of writing the Oxford English Dictionary. The professor opted to crowdsource definitions for the dictionary from people all over the world and then compile them into the massive book. While piecing together all of the definitions for the dictionary, his team discovered Dr. W.C. Minor (Sean Penn) was responsible for submitting more than 10,000 words. But there’s a reason Dr. Minor had so much time to submit these words: he’s a convicted murderer being held in an asylum.

The drama comes from the battle to determine whether someone like Dr. W.C. Minor deserves special recognition for his contribution to the dictionary. Professor James Murray is firmly in favor of redemption for the doctor, but the rest of the committee is outraged by the prospect. It should come as no surprise that Mel Gibson takes the role of the man demanding redemption considering all the mistakes the actor has made in the past decade.

However, Gibson almost stopped this movie from seeing the light of day. Deadline previously reported that the actor and his Icon Productions banner tried to block the movie from being released after a disagreement with Voltage Pictures. Both Gibson and director Farhad Safinia wanted scenes for the film shot on location in Oxford, England instead of using Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland as a substitute. But Voltage thought the film was already too far over budget and behind schedule, so they refused.

The controversy resulted in Gibson and Safinia walking off the project and suing Voltage by saying they were refusing to let the filmmaker complete the movie. But the LA Superior Court ruled that there was not “admissible evidence showing the existence of an actual controversy” with the production company.

The Professor and the Madman was finished with P.B. Sherman taking over the film and also receiving a co-writing credit with Todd Komarnicki. But Gibson won’t be promoting the movie at all after this scuffle. This kind of debacle actually makes me want to see the movie, mostly because I want to see if it actually came together in the end. It’s certainly not because of the draw of Mel Gibson and Sean Penn having a beard-off.

Here’s the official synopsis for The Professor and the Madman, and you can watch the first trailer here:

The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857 and was one of the most ambitious, and revolutionary projects ever undertaken. Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson) took on the challenge of creating the most comprehensive dictionary ever compiled, but knew that it would take him and his team over a century to compile all known definitions. However, by “crowd sourcing” the work, that is, by enlisting definitions from people all over the world, the dictionary could be compiled in mere decades. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor (Sean Penn), had submitted more than ten thousand words. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was a convicted murderer and being held at an asylum for the criminally insane.

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