Of all the long-developing music biopics out there in the world, a movie about Janis Joplin nearly tops the list of much dicussed, but unmade projects. Before Fernando Meirelles made “360,” he was linked to a version that would’ve starred Amy Adams and been produced by Wyck Godfrey of “Twilight” fame. And over the years, names ranging from Pink to Zooey Deschanel to Renee Zellweger have all cropped up to play the iconic singer, without much happening. But it looks like all the pieces are in place for what could be a very unique pairing.
“Martha Marcy May Marlene” director Sean Durkin will direct “Joplin” with rising stage star and actress Nina Arianda (“Midnight In Paris,” “Tower Heist“) taking on the lead role. If you haven’t heard her name yet, you likely will soon. She’s already on the Hollywood radar, having been in contention for a role in Kathryn Bigelow‘s “Zero Dark Thirty,” and she just took home a Tony award for “Venus In Fur.” But it seems we’ve been down the Janis Joplin Movie path many times over the past few years, so what makes this one so different?
Well, producer Peter Newman (“The Squid And The Whale,” “Blue In The Face“) not only has the rights to the songs and arrangements of Joplin and her band Big Brother And The Holding Company, but also to “Love, Janis” a book collecting her letters, the David Dalton biography “Piece Of My Heart,” hours of interviews and three of her apperaces on “The Dick Cavett Show.” That’s some very solid source material right there, but more importantly, having the music is a big piece of the puzzle particularly for a movie that unlike the Andre 3000 Jimi Hendrix pic “All Is By My Side,” will focus on the last six months of her life, before she died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27.
“Joplin” will be made on a small $20 million budget ($2.5 million has been sunk into development thus far) but Newman isn’t concerned at all about not having a big name take the lead. “I’ve never in my life seen an actress walk on a stage and convey the duality of vulnerability with overheated sexuality, which is what Janis was all about,” Newman said about Arianda. And stepping things up even further, Arianda will be singing all the songs in the flick herself.
We have to say, going for a new face was probably the best choice, and pairing up the project with Durkin — who has already shown what he can do with complex, troubled female characters — is tremendously promising. Should everything come together (fingers crossed) “Joplin” will shoot in early 2013. [Deadline]