Natalie Dormer to Star With Sean Penn, Mel Gibson in ‘Professor and the Madman’

Novel is being adapted to big screen by “Apocalypto” writer Farhad Safinia

Natalie Dormer has been cast in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of “The Professor and the Madman,” also staring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, TheWrap has learned.

The film, based on Simon Winchester’s best-selling historical novel about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, is being produced out of Icon Productions.

Farhad Safinia, who wrote Gibson’s 2006 Mayan epic “Apocalypto,” is directing. It has been a passion project for Gibson since 1998.

Known for her roles on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and also the “Hunger Games” series, Dormer will play a widow whose husband gets killed by Penn’s character — who then starts a thorny romance with her.

Gibson will portray Prof. James Murray, who in 1857 started creating the famed dictionary, a compilation project that’s considered one of the most ambitious in history.

Penn will play Dr. W.C. Minor, an associate of Murray’s who was responsible for over 10,000 entries in the dictionary. He was also an insane asylum inmate.

Voltage Pictures is representing the international rights and will be selling the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Gibson is producing along with Bruce Davey.

Cameras start rolling toward the end of September.

Up next for Dormer is the thriller “In Darkness,” which the actress also co-wrote with the indie movie’s director, Anthony Byrne. Emily Ratajkowski, Ed Skrein and Stacy Martin will also star.

Dormer is repped by Untitled Entertainment, UTA, United Agents, and Jackoway Tyerman.