James Franco “Night Stalker” Movie Will Mark Actor’s Directorial Debut

James Franco has been tapped to play sadistic serial killer Richard Ramirez in the upcoming biopic The Night Stalker, based on Philip Carlo’s book of the same name.

In 1985, Ramirez went on a rampage of sexual assault and murder, entering homes at night leaving Southern Californian shaking with fear. He was later captured, found guilty of 13 counts of murder, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries, and ultimately sentenced to death row. Franco, who’s already sparking Oscar buzz for the gory adventure drama 127 Hours — jumped at the opportunity to star as the condemned man. The Night Stalker — which will serve as Franco’s directorial debut — will show how Ramirez went from Average Joe to Cold-Blooded Killer.

Nicholas Constantine, a screenwriter on the project, dished a few deets on Franco’s involvement during a chat with The New York Post last week.

“I had no idea if he would do it, though, since it’s pretty dark subject matter. They told me he was studying to be a director and this was perfect for him,” Constatine explained. “We watched three short films he made, two of which were dark and one of which was about a serial killer. That confirmed James definitely had this dark side, and it definitely sealed the deal for us. Sure enough, James read the material and responded to it immediately.”

Interestingly enough, James spent much of last summer playing a deranged Ramirez-esque serial killer in a critically-acclaimed guest arc on the ABC sudster General Hospital.

The Night Stalker begins filming this summer.