Mel acquired the film rights to Simon Winchester's book about the strange story behind the creation of the OED, The Professor and the Mad Man in 1998.

According to editors at The Hollywood Reporter, Sean is now in talks to star alongside Mel, with the writer of the Australian's 2006 directorial effort Apocalypto, Farhad Safinia set to direct.

The Professor and the Mad Man follows the story of Professor James Murray, who in 1857 began compiling the OED, which is still to this day the definitive record of the English language.

Bizarrely, many of the dictionary's early entries were written by former American army surgeon Dr. William Chester Minor, who Murray eventually discovered was sending his contributions from Britain's Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane, where he was imprisoned after fatally shooting a man. He was one of the largest contributors of quotations to the OED.

Mel will reportedly play the Professor in the new film, while Sean, 55, will take on the role of the insane dictionary contributor.

The 60-year-old Mad Max star is attempting to rebuild his career after it suffered in the wake of alcohol abuse issues, allegations of domestic abuse and being recorded making anti-Semitic remarks.

His latest directorial effort, Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving and Vince Vaughn, is set to hit cinemas in the U.S. on 4 November (16).