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Will Sean Penn Play a Jewish Gangster?

Sean Penn may play Jewish again. But this time, the role couldn’t be further from his Oscar-winning performance as the late civil-rights pioneer Harvey Milk.

Image by Getty Images

The 51-year-old thesp, reports Deadline.com, has been offered the role of notorious L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen in “Gangster Squad,” a crime drama to be directed by Jewish “Zombieland” helmer Ruben Fleischer.

Cohen, according to Deadline.com, was “a former boxer who became an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, [and] a charismatic figure who caroused around town with a gorgeous girl on his arm, and often with his attractive etiquette coach at his side.” Cohen “once even took part in a Life Magazine profile. But he was also considered a sociopath whose vices included sex and extortion, and whose mood could darken on a dime,” Deadline.com writes.

Cohen “was under 5’5,” but in the crime world he was considered a giant, especially in L.A., his chosen hunting ground,” according to the web site of Bradley Lewis, author of Hollywood’s “Celebrity Gangster, The Incredible Life and Times of Mickey Cohen.” “His contacts were spread all over the country and included an array of politicians, newsmen and columnists, movie moguls, movie stars and mobsters — all of them ready to take his calls from coast to coast.”

Alongside Penn, Ryan Gosling has been approached to play one of the LAPD officers who famously chased Cohen out of town.
The role may be a stretch for Penn, who — claims CelebHeights.com — is 5’8”.

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