Upon hearing the news that Anne Hathaway unofficially officially
signed on to star in the Weinstein Company’s film based on the life of famed
actress Judy Garland, I couldn’t help but simply smile. Here is an actress that has an abundance of
potential bottled up inside of her. Sure,
we’ve seen hints of her true talent in Brokeback Mountain and most notably Rachel
Getting Married, but nothing has truly stood out to make everyone take
notice. If it is indeed true (since we
know nothing in this industry is ever a guarantee), then we will definitely be
in for a treat. Hathaway’s acting style
and physical beauty is reminiscent of the best leading ladies of the 50’s and
60’s, while also being very modern. It
should be interesting to see how this plays out.
After reading the Garland news, I got to thinking about
other potential biopics that I’ve read about over the last few years. We’ve all heard the rumors that Johnny Depp has
been approached to play former INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence. Despite the belief that Depp can apparently
play anybody on this planet nowadays, he would indeed be an interesting casting
choice. Depp bears an uncanny
resemblance to Hutchence and we know that he’s got the acting chops to
spare. The only downside to a Hutchence
biopic would probably be that it’ll cover what we’ve seen before. This is why Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
was made in the first place, to satirize the growing number of biopics that
Hollywood was churning out at the time; especially after Jamie Foxx, Joaquin
Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman impressed us all with their portrayals of
Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and Truman Capote respectively.
In many ways, biopics are vanity projects, enabling actors
to breathe life into individuals that a very select and lucky few of us were perhaps
able to see in person. Now, with the
news of Hathaway taking the Garland role and Depp (potentially) getting the
Hutchence role, I notice a change in the way Hollywood is approaching the
biopic. They are trying to get the ones
people actually want to see off the ground. The
problem is, with biopics, legal issues can arise with little to no warning,
killing a project before it even gets a chance to gather steam.
Look at the film based on the life of the former drummer for
The Who, Keith Moon. Years ago, Mike
Myers was rumored to be interested in the role.
After his underrated work in 54, it was a no-brainer for me; this role
would make everyone look at the funny man seriously. But then, he decided to make The Love Guru his
big comeback film and we all know how that turned out. Hopefully his small role in Tarantino’s Inglourious
Basterds is a sign that he wants to take his career in a different direction.
How about the long gestating rumor that Sacha Baron Cohen
was considered to play legendary rock front man Freddie Mercury in the film
based on his (little known and mysterious) life. This is the biopic that intrigues me the
most, simply because we know very little about Mercury’s life. Not to mention the fact that Cohen is a
completely out of left field decision that can prove to be very successful for the
film and the actor’s career.
There are a number of other biopics in the works, based on
the lives of Muppet creator Jim Henson (another interesting individual who made
an important impact on television history) and William M. Gaines, the creator
of the Tales from the Crypt comic series and MAD Magazine, the latter supposedly
directed by John Landis.
While I am extremely excited for most of these biopics to eventually
see the light of day, I’m also a little concerned. These are difficult stories to tell and tend
to go straight to the heart due to the connection they have with potential
audiences (can you imagine how disastrous a failed Jim Henson biopic would be?). These are individuals and, in some cases,
larger than life characters that have impacted many a life simply by living
theirs. Please do not bastardize the
legacy they left behind. Find the soul
of who they were and tell the best damn story possible without treading in
familiar territory and I guarantee that there will be an audience.