Excitement broke out in 2017 when, for a brief moment, it was reported that Rihanna was joining Adam Driver in Leos Carax’s musical drama “Annette.” Variety reported at the time that “a pitch to American distributors included Rihanna in the cast and the film’s producers told buyers at the Berlin Film Festival that the singer was attached.” Rihanna’s team quickly shot down the report, confirming to the press that the music superstar was not going to appear in the film. But she would have if Carax got his way.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Carax confirmed that he did write a part in the “Annette” script specifically for Rihanna. The part was a cameo appearance in which Rihanna would perform with the eponymous character who, as a baby, possesses the rare gift of an angelic singing voice. Rihanna declined the role.
“It was a small part written specifically for her,” Carax said of the planned cameo. “She was supposed to play Rihanna. When Baby Annette becomes famous, there was a duet between the puppet and Rihanna. But then Rihanna feels upstaged by this baby.”
“Annette” opened to 2021 Cannes Film Festival to a rave review from IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, who called the film a “mind-blowing musical fantasia.” Kohn added: “As a pure experimental ride expressed entirely through song, ‘Annette’ works in fits and starts with the same surreal blend of haunting beauty and dry, absurdist humor that Carax brought to ‘Holy Motors.'”
Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in “Annette” as a comedian and an opera singer whose romance leads to the birth of a special child. The film features original songs written by Sparks, who developed “Annette” with Carax for nearly a decade. Sparks spoke to IndieWire ahead of the film’s theatrical release and revealed the origins of “Annette” first began with a scrapped Tim Burton musical.
“The first time we wrote a full-blown movie musical was our adaptation of ‘Mai, the Psychic Girl’ for Tim Burton, which didn’t get made,” Sparks member Ron Mael said. “We learned pretty early on from that experience how to incorporate dialogue into a musical setting that feels naturalistic while still feeling stylized. That’s something we really enjoy — incorporating things that don’t ordinarily find people breaking into song”
Rihanna fans will have to keep waiting for a chance to see the singer belt lyrics by Sparks. “Annette” is now playing in selection theaters from Amazon Studios. The musical will begin streaming August 20 on Amazon Prime Video.