Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has signed on to play Philippe Petit, better known as the man who surreptitiously mounted a daring tight rope walk across World Trade Center I and WTC 2 back in 1974. The daring feat was examined to great acclaim in the 2008 documentary Man On Wire by James Marsh, which won the Academy Award in the non-fiction category at the 2009 Oscars. Gordon-Levitt will star in the role for a 3-D version of the story that Robert Zemeckis will direct from a script he co-wrote with Christopher Browne according to Deadline which broke the story. 

Zemeckis’ previous film, Flight starring Denzel Washington, had its World Premiere at the 50th New York Film Festival where it screened as the Closing Night Gala. The working title for this project is To Reach The Clouds, which is the title of Mr. Petit’s memoirs.

Gordon-Levitt, who took his first turn at directing a feature film last year with Don Jon (in which he also starred), confirmed his participation in a Tweet Monday: “Mesdames et Messieurs, it’s official. I will have the distinct honor of working for Mr. Robert Zemeckis!”

Gordon-Levitt presumably used the French greeting referencing the real-life character he’ll portray, who was born in France in 1949.  The actor is known to have a working knowledge of French and was a gymnast in his teen years. Shooting will begin in May, according to Deadline.

Philippe Petit made is daring crossing between the twin towers on the morning of August 7, 1974. The tight rope walk, which has been dubbed the “artistic crime of the century,” and one in which Mr. Petit has referred to as “le coup,” took place 1,350 feet above Manhattan. He rigged a 450-pound cable and used a custom-built 26 foot-long balancing pole, crossing the rope strewn between the two giant buildings eight times over 45 minutes. Though illegal, all charges were dropped in exchange for doing a performance in Central Park for children. He celebrated his 25th birthday a week after performing the stunt.