James Franco to play Robert Mapplethorpe in biopic

The film is being produced by 'Dollhouse' star Eliza Dushku

James Franco is in line to portray Robert Mapplethorpe, according to reports.

The biopic, named simply Mapplethorpe, centres on the seminal photographer, on the New York art scene, renowned for his large black and white portraits and images of nudes. He famously caused controversy with his sexually explicit photography.

According to the Hollywood Reporter the film is being produced by Dollhouse star Eliza Dushku alongside Nate Dushku and Miles Levy. Documentary director Ondi Timoner will make her narrative film debut.

Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 42, leading to the establishment of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which promotes his work and funds HIV research.

Franco has previously played gay roles as Harvey Milk‘s lover in Milk and as beat poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl. He has previously stated that he does not mind if his career choices make people think he is gay.

A Mapplethorpe photograph was featured on the cover of Scissor Sisters‘ 2010 album ‘Night Work’.