One of Robert Redford's classic films, The Natural, was a fictional baseball story, and now the actor has signed on for a period drama about the Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey and the black player he signed in 1945, Jackie Robinson.
The as-yet-untitled film will be written and directed by Brian Helgeland, screenwriter for L.A. Confidential and Mystic River.
The focus of the story is about the relationship between Robinson and Rickey, who is responsible for integrating the sport in America, as well as other innovations including the use of batting helmets. Author Jimmy Breslin's new biography of Rickey was released March 17.
"No one really knows the Rickey part, the political maneuvers and the partnership they had to share," Redford told the Los Angeles Times, which reported the announcement. "It's the story underneath the story you thought you knew."
Redford's connection to the sport found him throwing the first pitch at the Chicago Cubs' season opener on April 4. The last film he appeared in was Lions for Lambs in 2007 with Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise.
The actor directed The Conspirator, another historical story about a woman charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of US President Abraham Lincoln. The film, starring Robin Wright, James McAvoy and Tom Wilkinson, releases April 15.