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Janis Joplin Biopic Secures Lead Actress, Director, and Music Rights

Nina Arianda appeared in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and she recently won a Best Actress Tony for her performance in the comedy-drama Venus in Fur, but the star will soon be known for portraying power vocalist Janis Joplin. According to a report from Deadline, Arianda will make her big screen debut playing the 1960s rock icon in Joplin. The film focuses on the final six months of the singer’s life, flashing back to her earlier career. In her later years, Joplin created a birthday recording for John Lennon, got hooked on heroin, had a rocky relationship with lover Seth Morgan, and finished recording her album Pearl — which was released posthumously and became the biggest selling work of her career.

Deadline also reports that Martha Marcy May Marlene filmmaker Sean Durkin, whose naturalistic approach seems fitting for the singer, will direct Joplin. Durkin’s film also featured a memorable music segment from John Hawks’ charismatic, but menacing character that was beautifully realized on screen.

The indie feature will start production next year. If you’re worrying that this is another case of a singer’s biopic with no actual music from the singer (see: the Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side), fear not. Producer Peter Newman spent the last 12 years trying to nail down the exclusive rights to use 21 of Joplin’s best-known songs, and the movie will feature them with Arianda singing. Newman reassures that “she has the chops to do justice to Joplin’s signature gritty sound.” Pink and Zooey Deschanel were other actresses previously reported in the lead role. Newman also “has the rights to Love, Janis, a collection of letters from the singer that was published by her sister Laura Joplin, and the David Dalton book Piece Of My Heart.”

Let us know what you make of the casting decisions, and what aspects of Joplin’s late career you’re hoping to see on screen.

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