Timothée Chalamet’s Bob Dylan Biopic Not Happening Anytime Soon, Says DP

Way back in January Searchlight Pictures closed a deal on a new Bob Dylan biopic to be directed by James Mangold and starring Timothée Chalamet as the folk icon. The project is centered around a controversial period in the musician’s life as he transitioned from folk to rock, and is set to mark Mangold’s first return to music biopics since 2005’s Oscar-winning Johnny Cash drama “Walk the Line.” Now, according to cinematographer Phedon Papamichael in a new interview with Collider, the film, originally titled “Going Electric” won’t be happening anytime soon and he explained why.

“We were going to do Bob Dylan with Mangold that didn’t happen, with Timothée Chalamet, about going electric in the ’60s, and it would have been my third ’60s movie in a row,” said Papamichael, who last collaborated with the director on 2019’s “Ford v Ferrari.” This year, Papamichael also shot the 1960s-set “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” depicting a tumultuous period of protest that certainly had plenty of crossover with Dylan’s own life and work. Papamichael earned an Academy Award nomination for 2013’s “Nebraska.”

Papamichael said the period-specific details of the story make such a project challenging amid the pandemic, when sets have been forced to pare down. “I don’t think it’s dead, but it’s a tough one to pull off in a COVID-era because it’s all in small clubs with lots of extras in period costumes, so you’ve got lots of hair and makeup,” he added.

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Papamichael says his next project with Mangold will actually be “Indiana Jones 5.” “I hope to get people back in the theaters and get to do movies for a while longer for the big screen. I hope it doesn’t change our viewing cinema culture forever, this event,” the Greek cinematographer said.

Chalamet had reportedly already begun guitar lessons and back in August teased the role on his Twitter account by posting Dylan songs and lyrics. He’ll next appear in Searchlight’s “The French Dispatch” some time next year from director Wes Anderson, as well as in Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune,” which Warner Bros. pushed off the 2020 calendar and to an October 1, 2021 release. He was also recently added to the cast of Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.”

IndieWire has reached out to Searchlight Pictures for comment.