Val Lauren has signed on to star in James Franco's upcoming Sal Mineo biopic, which Franco will direct from a script he wrote based on a biography of Sal Mineo by Michael Gregg Michaud. James Franco will not star in the project, as has been rumored.

Tentatively title Sal, the film tells the story of the enigmatic actor best known for his appearance opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

Sal Mineo, who was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar twice -- in 1955 for Rebel Without a Cause and in 1960 for Exodus -- was murdered in West Hollywood in 1976 at the age of 37. The actor, who was gay, played the part of John "Plato" Crawford in Rebel Without a Cause; Sal Mineo broke ground for his subtle portrayal of a homosexual character.

Sal begins shooting in Los Angeles in early summer.