A biopic of Peggy Lee that’s been kicking around Hollywood for nearly a decade is getting revived by “Far From Heaven” and “Carol” director Todd Haynes. Deadline has the scoop that Haynes will reunite with his “I’m Not There” and “Wonderstuck” star Michelle Williams, who will play the jazz chanteuse in the film. Williams is stepping in for Reese Witherspoon, who was attached when the project was first announced back in 2014. The script is written by Tony and Pulitzer winner Doug Wright.
Billie Eilish is also in talks to come on board as an executive producer, as she is an admirer of the vocalist, who burst out of the big band era and died in 2002. Lee is famous for her rendition of tracks like “Fever,” “I’m a Woman,” “Lover,” and “Is That All There Is?” Peggy Lee was also an actor onscreen and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 1955 for “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” in which she plays an alcoholic jazz singer.
The film will be produced by Marc Platt, Witherspoon, and Pamela Koffler and Christine Vachon via their Killer Films production banner, with whom Haynes has made many of his films, including his last outing, 2019’s “Dark Waters.”
“Fever” was originally in development at Fox 2000, with Haynes attached to direct Witherspoon as Lee (Witherspoon previously won an Oscar for playing another songstress, June Carter Cash, in the film “Walk the Line”). An original draft of the script was penned by Nora Ephron, who died in 2012. The project was thought over when Fox 2000 shut down with the Fox-Disney merger. Sources tell Deadline that MGM is now attached to the film and will release it theatrically via MGM’s distribution and marketing venture with United Artists Releasing.
Williams also played a version of another real-life figure for Haynes in “I’m Not There,” starring as a character modeled on Edie Sedgwick opposite Cate Blanchett’s twist on Bob Dylan. Next up, Williams is re-teaming with “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Wendy and Lucy,” and “Certain Women” director Kelly Reichardt for the film “Showing Up.” She’ll also be seen in the sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”
Earlier this year, Haynes sold his documentary about The Velvet Underground to Apple. Last year, he revealed that the film has queer roots in exploring the 1960s underground scene. Haynes earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for “Far From Heaven” in 2003, while his period romance “Carol” was nominated for six Oscars in 2016.
IndieWire has reached out to MGM representatives for comment.