Reece Witherspoon is having a pretty good year: she’s producing David Fincher‘s “Gone Girl,” she’s appearing in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Inherent Vice” and she’s earned some of the best reviews of her career for “Wild” and “The Good Lie,” both of which look to be in awards consideration after strong reviews on the festival circuit. But her good year may have got even better, because a long-gestating passion project looks to have got a new and very exciting lease of life.
Over four years ago, Witherspoon was attached to star in a biopic of legendary saloon singer Peggy Lee, which was to be written and directed by “Sleepless In Seattle” helmer Nora Ephron. There’s been little news of the project since, and when Ephron passed in 2012, most assumed that the film was dead. But in an onstage interview last night at the Toronto International Film Festival, Witherspoon revealed (via B. Ruby Rich) that the project’s back on track, and none other than Todd Haynes is going to be directing.
Haynes is no stranger to the music biopic: he broke through with the unauthorized Carpenters pic “Superstar,” went onto a fictionalized glam-rock tale “Velvet Goldmine,” and his last theatrical film was the Bob Dylan portmanteau “I’m Not There.” His only work since is the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” but Haynes will be back next year with the Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara project “Carol” and evidently this project.
It’s definitely an intriguing prospect: for one, Lee’s life doesn’t contain some of the showy tragedy of some musicians. For another, Haynes’ musical biopics are always pleasingly unconventional. And for another still, Witherspoon suggested that he’ll be working off Ephron’s script (subsequently, we’ve been told rewritten by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and “Quills” scribe Doug Wright), so it’ll be interesting to see how the visions meld. Details are pretty thin still, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that this could be before cameras as soon as next year, ahead of a potential release in 2016.