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Sean Penn to take on first major TV role with HBO miniseries American Lion

Academy Award winner Sean Penn is ready to take on his first major TV role. The actor is set to star as Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. President in American Lion, an upcoming HBO miniseries, according to Deadline.

Penn’s involvement in the project came after a series of fortunate events. According to Matt Jacobson, who is one of the miniseries’ executive producers (not to mention Facebook’s Head of Market Development), he met the actor in the 1980s when he and his father picked up a hitchhiker who was none other than Penn. Over 20 years later, the two reconnected after finding themselves seated next to each other on a plane. Later, Penn became interested in the project after hearing about it from Jacobson. After reading the script, the actor expressed interest in playing Jackson.

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Along with Jacobson, Penn will executive produce. Narcos co-creators Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard, who are writing the script, will serve as executive producers as well. The project also comes from Lionsgate Television, in its first series for HBO. The miniseries will be largely based on historian Jon Meacham’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, but another Jackson biography, written by Robert V. Remini, will provide additional source material. Meacham will serve as a consultant on American Lion.

Over the course of the six-hour event, the story will follow parts of Jackson’s very eventful biography. With the former president having risen to the presidency after starting with nothing, and having gone on to lead a controversial administration, Jacobson shared that it was difficult to focus on just one period of Jackson’s life. He had envisioned American Lion as a miniseries and felt TV could also offer broad appeal. “I want as many people to see it as possible, and television is a great way to do that,” he said.

American Lion is set to begin production in 2016.