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Twelve Music Biopics We Wanna See

on August 14, 2013, 11:01am
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biopic mosaic11 Twelve Music Biopics We Wanna See

Another blockbuster summer is in full swing, and I’ve found myself going to the movies on a semi-regular basis for the first time since my own Dazed and Confused teenage days. I’ve seen Brad Pitt up to his chiseled chin in zombies, Johnny Depp wearing a dead bird on his head, and enough end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios to make Michael Stipe begin to no longer feel so fine. And with every 15 dollars down (before popcorn and soft drink) in quest of celluloid magic this summer, I’ve left the theater with nothing but a case of artificial butter lips, sticky kicks, dashed dreams, and a swear jar’s worth of choice words for the MGM lion.

But rather than continue to pay for the right to gripe about Hollywood duds, I thought maybe we should release some better ideas out into the Internet ether in the hopes that the right people are reading. So, here we have it, our staff’s list of 12 music biopics that they’d like to see coming to a theater near them. These are the stories we want to see, and we’ve even spotted any potential producers out there the perfect casting choices to pull the flicks off. Take note, Tinsel Town. It’s time to give the people what they want—which, apparently, means a lot of Jesse Eisenberg. Who knew?

Matt Melis
Senior Editor

Miles Davis

Miles Davis - Don Cheadle

Played By: Don Cheadle

Working Title: So What

Why I’d Pay To See This: This movie has been in development for years and might actually get made. The film was originally primed to be a gangster picture rather than a straight biopic, which is a bit harrowing to hear. But, as for who can play Miles, no other actor has that cool look and icy demeanor down the way Don Cheadle does, and when it comes to playing Miles Davis, cool and icy are necessities. The iconic Davis silhouette playing trumpet practically looks like Cheadle stood in for the jazz legend. His physicality combined with embracing the trumpeter’s ego and genius are ripe for the silver screen.

Oscar Odds: Cheadle originally was slated to direct and star in a Miles biopic; with both roles, if successful, he’d be a high contender for taking home the gold. As it is now, Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) is directing with Cheadle still playing the lead. If he is true to both the person and the personality, Oscar may come calling, but it has to be perfect.

–Len Comaratta

Joe Strummer (or The Clash)

Strummer - JGL

Played By: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Working Title: Straight to Hell

Why I’d Pay To See This: The Most Important Rock Band in the world doesn’t have a movie of equal status. Director Julien Temple’s 2007 documentary, Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, comes close and is probably one of the better music documentaries in recent years. But, if we’re looking for the big screen expose, Strummer and Co. await patiently in queue. Twenty years ago, the title role belonged to John Cusack, who still looks like the spitting image of the late singer. Today? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an amicable candidate, and while he isn’t a Brit, he does know a thing or too about acting — and can even play guitar and sing, to boot. So, nab Eddie Redmayne as Paul Simonon and you’re halfway there.

Oscar Odds: Premium Rush aside, Levitt has been turning heads with critics lately. His recent performance in Don Jon, which he also wrote and directed, shows promise for a bright future of career opportunities. His take on Strummer? Oscar-worthy? It’ll depend on the writer and director, but I Believe in JoGoLev.

Michael Roffman

Richard Patrick (of Filter)

richard robert patrick

Played By: Older brother and actor Robert Patrick

Working Title: Take a Picture

Why I’d Pay To See This: Richard Patrick is most comfortable with a guitar in his hand and a mic to his lips. His brother Robert Patrick, however, followed a different route, and wound up splashed across the screen, portraying bad cops and degenerate gamblers, respectively. Sure, Robert is 10 years Richard’s senior and might not have T-1000’s chameleon-like abilities to portray the exact look of his younger sibling during Richard’s jaunt with Trent Reznor in the ’80s and early ’90s. But Robert’s firsthand knowledge of Richard’s struggles with alcohol and his own experiences as an active musical performer make him the right man to hop on the Short Bus and take a shot at retelling the story of post-grunge’s most industrial band.

Oscar Odds: About the same as the chances of disgraced politician Bud Dwyer escaping a press conference with his skull intact.

–Dan Pfleegor

Ozzy Osbourne

ozzy ferrel

Played By: Will Ferrell

Working Title: Finished with My Woman

Why I’d Pay To See This: Over the last few years, there have been plenty of stories about a potential Ozzy Osbourne biopic, with Irish actor Colin Farrell chief among those rumoured to be cast as the Prince of Darkness. Yet, give him a wig, some eyeliner, and some black threads and there’s no doubt that Will Ferrell is a shoe-in for the role. You can picture Ferrell mastering Ozzy’s practiced wild stares and excess-all-areas mannerisms while the thick Birmingham accent would present no problem for a man who made a name as an impressionist on Saturday Night Live. The film title taken from the opening line of “Paranoid” might draw a lawsuit from Sharon, though.

Oscar Odds: Having co-presented the 2013 Awards, Ferrell can find his way to the venue. That could be as far as it goes, though.

Tony Hardy

Paul Westerberg (or The Replacements)

Westerberg Eisenberg

Played By: Jesse Eisenberg

Working Title: I Will Dare

Why I’d Pay To See This: If you’re a fan of The Replacements, or if you’ve ever read Jim Walsh’s excellent oral history of the band, All Over But the Shouting, you’ll know the story behind the Minneapolis quartet is filled with all sorts of drama, tension, chaos, and pain. From Bob Stinson’s reckless and tragic lifestyle to Paul Westerberg’s insidious charm and the fact that their bassist Tommy Stinson was pretty much a tween when he joined. It could make for a great indie film (think of Control, but in full color and a slightly happier ending), especially if Westerberg look-alike Jesse Eisenberg manages to belt out the songs IRL.

Oscar Odds: Not very high for this caliber of film. A little too, wait for it, “Left of the Dial”.

Michael Roffman

George Jones

Jones Carrey

Played By: Jim Carrey

Working Title: White Lightning: The George Jones Story

Why I’d Pay To See This: It’s the eyes. Picture Carrey from Me, Myself, and Irene, and then stick him in an embroidered jacket. The resemblance borders on creepy. While the Canadian comedian is known for his rubbery face and roles in such cinematic classics as Ace Ventura Pet Detective, he has proven his dramatic chops in more serious movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Majestic. Plus, both Jones and Carrey battled substance abuse, which also suggests Carrey could tackle the Possum’s frequently turbulent life.

Oscar Odds: Jamie Foxx and Joaquin Phoenix feel good about it.

Erin Carson

Peter Silberman (of The Antlers)

Silbermann Deen

Played By: Adult film actor James Deen

Working Title: New York Hospitals

Why I’d Pay To See This: Hospice, The Antlers’ 2009 masterpiece, drew heavily from chief songwriter Peter Silberman’s own life in its conflation of a crumbling relationship and a cancer patient’s deterioration. In the hands of a filmmaker like, say, Gus Van Sant, Silberman’s biopic could presumably incorporate the album’s heartbreaking narrative. And in the lead role? Why not prolific adult film superstar James Deen? Deen, who made the leap to mainstream cinema in this year’s The Canyons, shares Silberman’s everyman frame, soulful eyes, and steely intensity, not to mention a predilection for, er, unconventional modes of storytelling.

Oscar Odds: The film bears several hallmarks of an Oscar contender—biography, dashed romance, terminal disease—but if Deen’s The Canyons performance is any indication, he’ll have a lot more luck at the AVN Awards.

Randall Colburn

Keith Moon

moon grint

Played By: Rupert Grint

Working Title: A Swimming Pool Named Desire

Why I’d Pay To See This: Such is the latent demand for a Keith Moon biopic that a fan site has been set up to petition for the film to be made. The site promotes Jason Schwartzman as the full Moon while initial reports years back cast Mike Myers in the role with Roger Daltrey producing. More recently, Entourage’s Jeremy Piven declared an interest. The embryo movie’s working title, “See Me Feel Me: Keith Moon Naked for Your Pleasure”, may explain why a writer still isn’t signed. Moon once claimed in a Rolling Stone interview that he’d driven a Lincoln Continental into the swimming pool of the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. Though Moon’s biographer subsequently disputed the incident, any scriptwriter worth his salt would surely include it. With experience of driving a car across the sky, Harry Potter star Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) would take to the Michigan water just as well. The ginger hair would of course have to go.

Oscar Odds:  The Lincoln Continental would win Best Visual Effects with a Makeup & Hair Styling award for Grint.

Tony Hardy

Rivers Cuomo

Cuomo Schwartzman

Played By: Jason Schwartzman

Working Title: My Name Is Rivers: Not The Buddy Holly Story

Why I’d Pay To See This: Rivers Cuomo’s career certainly has an arc. Bygone emo hero and current pop-rock scapegoat, Cuomo spent the late ’90s in seclusion after Pinkerton’s negative critical reception. Jason Schwartzman, an actor known for his baby face and awkward charisma, is a shoe-in to portray the Weezer front man. Not only does Schwartzman’s performance style echo Cuomo’s songwriting—cerebral and sensitive, with an offbeat sense of humor—his own pop outfit, Coconut Records, is a clear descendent of Weezer’s early work.

Oscar Odds: Schwartzman’s got an Oscar-worthy performance in him somewhere, but it’s probably not in conveying Cuomo’s struggles, which mainly amount to those of a neurotic rich kid—not your typical Oscar bait.

Randall Colburn 

Jake Fogelnest

Fogelnest Eisenberg

Played By: Jesse Eisenberg

Working Title: I’m a Professional

Why I’d Pay To See This: Having already played an insufferable asshole in 2010’s The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg is the perfect choice to bring the derisive radio personality and pioneer of DIY television Jake Fogelnest to life on the big screen. Channeling the comic energy of Zombieland’s Columbus and the snide pompousness of Mark Zuckerberg, Eisenberg could capture the same energy that took Fogelnest from a teenage New York public access television powerhouse to a respected radio personality on Sirius XMU. Scenes could include Jake learning the bad news that his masturbation scene had been cut from Wet Hot American Summer or being stuffed in a garbage can on the street by Oasis’s Noel Gallagher.

Oscar Odds: Eisenberg’s already been nominated for Best Actor once for playing the man responsible for the most popular website of our generation, but even so, it’s difficult to imagine him getting the call for playing the host of a weekly webcast where he yells at tweens.

Pat Levy

Kurt Cobain

Cobain Anderson

Played By: Joe Anderson

Working Title: Heavier Than Heaven

Why I’d Pay To See This: Many reasons. A biopic surrounding Nirvana or Kurt Cobain has been gestating for years, and so far, all we’ve received are a few excellent documentaries (specifically 2006’s About a Son) and one weird indie film about a Cobain-But-Not-Cobain-like singer thanks to Gus Van Sant. Apparently director Brett Morgen’s on track to produce something for next year, but it’s shaping up to be another documentary. Our advice? Cast Joe Anderson, who pretty much is Cobain by looks alone and can actually perform, sing, and play guitar, then get this to the screen ASAP.

Oscar Odds: Doubtful. Similar to Strummer, it’ll really weigh on the director and the script. And whether or not the Academy ever listened to In Utero.

— Michael Roffman

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

Played By: Jack Black (David Crosby), Owen Wilson (Stephen Stills), Chris O’Dowd (Graham Nash), and Vince Vaughn (Neil Young)

Working Title: Love the One You’re With:  A Folk-Rock Bromance

Why I’d Pay To See This: The CSNY story is filled with band relationship turmoil, copious amounts of drugs, genre (and folk-circle) cross-breeding, lots of acoustic guitars, and even more vocal harmonies. In other words, the perfect bromance comedy! Adam McKay directs this Judd Appatow production, tracing the band members’ respective journeys from their pre-CSN bands (Cameos a-plenty here! Think of meeting James Franco’s Gram Parsons) all the way to the rise of the folk-rock super group. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson would perfectly capture Neil Young and Stephen Stills’ ego-fueled sparring matches, while Jack Black would be perfectly suited for constantly snorting peyote, and Chris O’Dowd would chase Kristin Wiig’s Joni Mitchell with misguided tepidity. The eagle would definitely fly with the dove.

Oscar Odds: Let’s see if the cast members get invited first…

–Drew Litowitz

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