Robert Pattinson As Kurt Cobain and Six Other Musical Biopics I’d Pay Money to See
Like Marlon Brando, James Dean, Luke Perry and James Franco at various stages of their careers, Robert Pattinson has the wounded, sensitive rock-god thing down. And unlike his Twilight costar Taylor Lautner, who appears to be intent on becoming the next big action hero, Pattinson seems to want to take his career in a quirkier, more interesting and character-driven direction.
And what character is quirkier and more interesting than Kurt Cobain? Reportedly, Pattinson is a top pick to portray the Nirvana rocker, who committed suicide in 1994, in an upcoming biopic of his life. If he does get the gig, it will certainly be more challenging and potentially more rewarding come Oscar season than playing a vampire.
But here’s the big question: Who gets to play Courtney Love?
While we’re waiting to see who ultimately gets cast, here are five other musical biopics that need to be made and the actors who should star in them.
Reese Witherspoon as Tammy Wynette Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline both got the big-screen treatment, but the cinematic potential of Wynette’s real-life melodrama might be as great as Sweet Dreams and Coal Miner’s Daughter combined: multiple husbands, marriage to an alcohol fellow country music superstar (George Jones), a savage beating and kidnapping that some accused her of staging for publicity, multiple illnesses, and finally, sadly, death at age 55.
There was a TV movie in 1981 called Stand by Your Man, but that doesn’t count any more than Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story, starring Sherilyn Fenn in the title role, counts as the definitive biopic on Liz, whose off-screen life, come to think of it, bears some striking similarities to Wynette’s.
Witherspoon already won an Oscar for playing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, and she’s publicly expressed interest in bringing Wynette’s story to the screen. If the movie ever gets made, and if Witherspoon is cast, Oscar No. 2 is as good as hers.
Eddie Murphy as James Brown As he proved in Dreamgirls, Murphy’s got the voice and the moves to play an arrogant self-obsessed soul man less-than-loosely based on the Godfather of Soul. Alan Arkin ended up snatching the Oscar out from under Murphy’s nose in one of the more unfortunate upsets in recent memory. This time, I suspect, there’d be no stopping Murphy.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Sinatra Why wasn’t this film made a long time ago? The dramatic possibilities are endless. Singer-turned-movie-star-turned-pop-icon with suspected mob ties and some of the flashiest friends in show business. It would be the most star-studded biopic since The Aviator, which starred DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.
I don’t know if Leo can croon with even a fraction of Sinatra’s skill, but Angela Bassett and Marion Cotillard, as Tina Turner and Edith Piaf, respectively, nailed their subjects without singing a note.
Kerry Washington as Aretha Franklin Now here’s a major star that we know almost nothing about other than that her road to becoming the Queen of Soul was rocky indeed, with professional obstacles, private travails, two teenage pregnancies, the deaths of three sisters and the 1979 shooting and eventual death of her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin.
Franklin once said that she’d like Toni Braxton to play in her a movie about her life, and 10 years ago, when Braxton was in her early 30s, that wouldn’t have been a bad choice. But Kerry Washington is a talented actress in desperate need of one breakthrough role. And this is an instance where they wouldn’t need to cast a big-name star. Franklin’s music alone would be enough incentive to get people to see the movie.
Anne Hathaway as Liza Minnelli She can sing. She can dance. She can act. I’m talking about both Hathaway and Minnelli. The story of Liza’s mom has already been perfectly told in a telefilm (2001’s Life With Judy Garland: Me and my Shadows, with Judy Davis as Garland), and in many ways, Liza’s life has mirrored her moms: movies, music, drugs, alcohol, two Oscar nominations, marriages to gay men. But in Liza’s case, there’s no tragic ending, which, as proven by Coal Miner’s Daughter and What’s Love Got to Do With?, is not an essential ingredient for a highly watchable musical biopic.
Madonna as Madonna Her private life has been a bit too public to make for revealing onscreen drama, so maybe it’s time for a proper sequel to her popular 1991 documentary Truth or Dare. Madonna has released several tour packages since then, so this time I think she should document her offstage life, from her relationship with the Brazilian model who’s young enough to be her son to her current attempt to build a girls’ school in Africa, Oprah-style, to her ongoing crusade to mould daughter Lourdes in her own superstar image.
Hell, and if they must make that Madonna movie, in 10 years, Lourdes will be old enough to play her mom.