Michelle Williams was Academy Award-nominated for playing screen icon Marilyn Monroe and won an Emmy for transforming into Broadway star Gwen Verdon, but it seems that Williams will not take the mic to be singer Peggy Lee for an upcoming biopic anymore.
The “Showing Up” actress confirmed that the slated Peggy Lee biopic “Fever” with writer-director Todd Haynes is officially dead.
“It’s gone the way of the buffalo, I’m afraid,” Williams told Variety in a cover story. “But if anyone reading this story would like to resurrect it, Todd and I are on board for that.”
“The Many Saints of Newark” breakout Alessandro Nivola was set to play Dave Barbour, with Doug Wright penning the screenplay. Director Haynes, meanwhile, helmed the experimental Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and the documentary “The Velvet Underground.” The “Carol” director is currently readying for the drama “May December” with Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman.
Separately, Williams was also slated to portray Janis Joplin in another musical biopic, but the film has yet to secure financing. Instead, Williams is playing another real-life titan: Steven Spielberg’s mother in the upcoming awards season period piece “The Fabelmans.”
“We were sitting around the house in COVID, with one day looking a lot like the next, and my phone beeped, and I had a message that Steven wanted to talk to me,” Williams recalled. “I couldn’t comprehend that he might want to work with me. I thought he had a question or something. Then he got on the Zoom and told me that he wanted me to play this person, his mama.”
Williams requested Spielberg’s personal archives be uploaded to an iPad so she could practice sounding like his mother while watching home movies, observing photos, and listening to voice recordings. Paul Dano stars as Spielberg’s father, while Seth Rogen plays his uncle. David Lynch, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” scene-stealer Julia Butters, and newcomer Gabriel LaBell also star.
“Angels in America” playwright and “West Side Story” scribe Tony Kushner penned the script.
“It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s kind of everything,” Williams said of the upcoming film, in theaters November 23. “It’s the muchness of life. We’re trying to reflect all of that.”
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