Franco, who won a Golden Globe for playing James Dean in a 2001 TV movie about the Hollywood icon, has optioned film rights to a just-released biography of Sal Mineo, the enigmatic actor who shared memorable scenes with Dean in "Rebel."
Mineo, who led a freewheeling lifestyle, became the youngest performer nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar (for "Rebel") before being murdered at age 37.
Franco optioned the property himself as a potential writing-and-directing vehicle. He currently does not plan to star but that could change.
"Sal Mineo: A Biography," by artist and photographer Michael Gregg Michaud, was published in November by Random House. It details Mineo's rise to fame in such films as 1955's "Rebel" and 1960's "Exodus," his conflicted sexuality and friendships with Dean and Natalie Wood, as well as his 1976 death in West Hollywood after being stabbed by a pizza deliveryman.
The book includes insights from such collaborators as Dennis Hopper, as well as Mineo's fiancee Jill Haworth and his male lover Courtney Burr, according to book reviews.
Franco also recently optioned Stephen Elliott's memoir "The Adderall Diaries" as a writing-directing-starring vehicle. He currently is in the Oscar race for Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" and will star in next summer's "Planet of the Apes" prequel "Rise of the Apes" for Fox.