Janis Joplin biopic: Will the Amy Adams version really make it to the big screen?

Amy Adams’ reps have confirmed that the 35-year-old actress will portray Janis Joplin in the biopic to be directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and produced by Temple Hill Entertainment. Whether or not this movie actually makes it to the big screen is another matter entirely. Meirelles may be co-writing the most recent draft of the script, but he is set to direct 360 — a BBC Films project written by Peter Morgan — prior to beginning work on Joplin. Also, the film does not yet have a studio partner, though a source says Temple Hill is talking to Fox Searchlight about the film. Until a deal is reached though, financing on the project remains shaky. Temple Hill didn’t return calls seeking comment. But the producers, who are also behind The Twilight Saga, are not the first to try to bring Joplin to the big screen.

In fact, over the last decade, two competing projects have been fighting for their chance to be first with Joplin’s story. Armed with the majority of the rights needed to make the biopic, including those to Joplin’s most famous songs and the life rights to people close to her, producer Peter Newman (The Squid and the Whale) has been the one most equipped to make the project, now titled The Gospel According to Janis. But over the last ten years — even with a bevy of stars attached, including Lili Taylor, rock star Pink, and Zooey Deschanel — the right combination never came together. “For us, the issue has never been rights,” says Newman. “It’s that I’m trying to make a really good movie and it’s very hard to get all the elements together at one time: the right director, the right star, the right script, and the right amount of money.” Newman, however, says he’s currently out to a “world-class director.” Also, he’s working with Rolling Stone magazine founding editor David Dalton — who spent a lot of time with Joplin during the last few months of her life and subsequently wrote the book Piece of My Heart: A Portrait of Janis Joplin — on crafting the right story for the screen.

The other project, titled Piece of My Heart, has been shepherded by Lakeshore Entertainment. Renée Zellweger was attached to star and produce back in 2003, but that project never came together.

As for the Adams/Meirelles project, which is called Get it While You Can, the script from musician-turned-writer Ron Terry had been owned by Fox Searchlight for the last few years. In fact, around three years ago, Catherine Hardwicke and Reese Witherspoon was a possible director/star combination being discussed. That didn’t come together, and the project lay dormant until Temple Hill found a common vision with Brazilian filmmaker Meirelles. In an ideal world, sources say Meirelles would begin filming the biopic at the end of the year — if his other project, 360, can’t come together. If not, then a start date would have to be pushed into 2011. And by then, who knows where Peter Newman will be with his efforts.

One thing is true: Audiences would love to see Janis Joplin’s story hit the big screen. The blogosphere has been afire since the news was reported last week. Here’s hoping someone can actually get it into theaters, soon.

Comments (136 total) Add your comment
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  • Aaron

    It won’t be half as good as Jackie Jormp-Jomp.

    • HD

      I know that’s right!

    • Christine

      That was literally the first thing I thought of when I saw this headline.

    • Casey

      ♪♪♪”You know you bought it…if you buy it with things.”♪♪♪

      • Casey

        Also, that episode reminds me of a great Jenna quote:

        “Do you need a sex tape release? Because I’ve got a weird one. It’s night vision and you can see that his buddy is robbing me.”

    • Hannah

      Or Janey Jimplin

  • Zo

    I love Amy Adams, but no. Just no.

    Also, I wish you had mentioned Brittany Murphy as having been one of the MAIN attached stars to this project for years. Now that she’s gone, media acts like she never existed.

    • Emily

      I love Amy too- but no. Amy is conventionally pretty and perky–Janis was none of those things.

      • xylophone

        Amy Adams does seem like an odd choice, but I wish they would make the film with her simply because I’m curious to see her make (or try to make) the transformation. Maybe she can do it; sometimes actors can surprise us by venturing out of the boxes they’ve been placed in.

      • Rumplestiltskin

        That’s like casting Strawberry Shortcake to play Amy Winehouse. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Amy Adams couldnt’t be gritty if she rolled in sand.

      • Big Walt

        Rump, have you seen Sunshine Cleaning, she’s a little gritty in that.

    • Anna

      There were rumours years ago floating around for a while about a legendary tape featuring Brittany Murphy as Joplin. It was supposed to be mind-blowing. A shame.

    • Kristen

      Amy can play NOT pretty or perky (see Sunshine Cleaning) (seriously, see it!!) Reese WItherspoon and Rene Zellweger would be to winsome to play Janis. They really need to find the lead singer for a band from the 90s called “Three Merry Widows” from St. Louis. She sounded just like Janis, looked a lot like her and, since her band got screwed by the record companies, she probably would love the work.

      • lawboy

        Three Mary Widows was a great band! I don’t know if Mary can act, but she sure can sing like Janis.

    • Brie

      Thank you, Zo. I’m glad someone mentioned Murphy. It breaks my heart that Brittany’s gone, because to me, she was the clear choice to play Joplin. She had the manic energy, and definitely had a hard edge. As much as I like Amy Adams, this role is a real stretch for her.

    • Ally

      Hi Zo, I’m also very glad you mentioned Brittany Murphy; she was a true talent and the perfect choice to portray Joplin. Whilst I believe Amy has talent; I really can’t imagine her or anyone else portraying Joplin the way Murphy would have.

      • Big Walt

        As long as she speed walks everywhere I think she’ll be able to pull it off.

  • zero milligrams (o.m.g.)

    bianca taylor ryan is the only person that could do janis joplin

    • springs

      Just googled her. You are so right (about the looks anyway).

      • zero milligrams (o.m.g.)

        she has the looks and the voice to hold the young janis where the real story is.
        in a few more years she for sure can get the older janis too…

    • BruceMpls

      She certainly has a powerful enough voice to carry the songs but she’s only 15 years old, which is way too young for the part. On the other hand, with as long as it’s taking to make this movie, she might be 25 by the time it actually gets filmed, which should be just about right.

      • zero milligrams (o.m.g.)

        you are right on the time line with productions companys. but the real story with janis is in her childhood, what we don’t know about her. when she first started singing and then headed out on her own. when she was still wearing clean ironed cotton dresses with short hair held back with a wide headband. this is what bianca taylor ryan can do and do it well.
        young janis…

  • ricardvs

    No 30 Rock joke? Really?

    • Nirveeze

      And who would Jackie Jormp-Jomp be from? That was a joke. And the first thing that popped into my mind as well.

  • Liz Lemon

    I can’t wait to hear “Synonyms just another word for the word you wanna use.”

  • dee

    Of all the people who could possibly play Janis Joplin, Amy Adams was probably the last person I would’ve thought of. lol

    • wooster182

      Until I heard the name Reese Witherspoon, I agreed. I love both women, but I just don’t think either could do this part.

  • JaHoey

    I’m still holding out for the Janie Jimplin movie.

  • fancypants

    amy adams? no. she has played virtually the same character (innocent/goody-two shoes) in all her performances (doubt, enchanted, catch me if u can, junebug, julie and julia, charlie wilson’s war). she has no range. she was only *slightly* different in julie and julia.

    • Madd

      THANK YOU.

    • Carol

      She grates on my nerves. I skipped over all her scenes in Julie & Julia because she was so awful.

    • fancypants

      i agree with the poster below who suggested joss stone. she has an amazing voice, similar in texture and tone to janis’ and she has proven she can act (the tudors). amy adams?! i’m sorry, i still can’t process this.

  • Joni

    I suggest Jennifer Nettles of the band Sugarland, she has an AMAZING voice and can do “gravelly”.
    The very 1st time I heard her voice (with the song “Stay”) I thought of Janis.
    Hey, Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer did a duet with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”. Give a listen.

    • Anna

      Ooh, good call!

      • Joni

        Thanks Anna. I believe she has the look too. The duet with Jon shows that Jennifer can do more than country music.

  • Arlene Grant

    Jennifer Landon, 3 time Emmy winner and singer, is the only choice!!

    • disgruntled redhead

      Ooooh, she’d be good–I loved her on As the World Turns.

  • Adam

    Renée Zellweger(!) came close to playing Janis Joplin? That would have been hilarious! I can just imagine that movie sweeping the Golden Raspberry Awards.

  • Dianne

    Reported last week? One of the Amy Adams sites reported this a month ago! That same site also just reported that the project is not likely to happen due to securing rights to the music.

  • Terry

    somebody call Joss Stone’s Agent!!!

    • dee

      I agree! Joss Stone would be great. Amy Adams??????? I like her but not for this role.

      • Sarah

        Joss would be perfect. I was hoping for Zooey Deschanel for years, but after watching Joss in The Tudors, she could totally pull it off.

      • Emily

        Joss is the one, and always has been.

    • m


    • disgruntled redhead

      Ugh~ I hate Joss Stone and her overwrought singing. I’d love a Janis Joplin movie, but not with Joss Stone.

  • Campbell

    I think that Melissa Etheridge should play Janis Joplin. Did you see her sing Janis’ songs at he Grammy a few years ago?

    • Bibi

      No way. She’s too old.

  • Victor

    I like how everyone has already chalked up this movie to be a failure when it hasn’t even been fully thought out yet. Couldn’t we at least see a trailer before we judge the film? And why is it that no one has any faith in Amy Adams’ talents. The girl has done really well for herself. She is a relatively new actress and already has been nominated for two Academy Awards, plus has been recognized for practically everything she has worked in. Frankly, I can’t say that she’ll knock this role out of the park, if I had that power I’d be rich, but I do know this, she will do a good job, she always does.

    And have a little faith in the director. Fernando picked her for a reason. Amy Adams can act and she can sing. Can she belt? I don’t know I have never heard her belt, but I am not about to sit here and say that she doesn’t have the cojones to rock it out like the late Janis Joplin.

    • Carol

      Name one quality of Amy Adams that would even remotely suggest that she would be a good Janis. She’s done a decent job in most of her movies, most notably Junebug, but there’s very little differences between all the characters she’s played.

      • Victor

        Just one, I could name quite a few. Why don’t I start with the fact that she’s a talented actress? That in itself is reason enough. Her job is to pretend she’s someone else and she does it quite convincingly. Her role in Junebug was drastically different than her role in Doubt and she was nominated for an Academy Award for both parts. Not to mention all of the other awards that she was nominated for and received. Then there’s Enchanted where she had to play the part of a cartoon. Again, she was recognized for her work by several critics and award groups. This proves one important factor, she can act and she can do it well. I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll be able to bring the character of Janis Joplin to life on the screen. And correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the job of an actor representing a former living figure is to be able to accurately portray that person. That’s like saying that Matt Damon was the wrong choice for Saving Private Ryan because he wasn’t a real soldier. You need a good actor to do that successfully.

        Secondly, we know that she can sing. She has proven that in at least three films that I have seen. Enchanted, Miss Petigrew and a low budget film called Moonlight Serenade. The music in all three movies were as different as night and day. Just because we haven’t seen her sing with power doesn’t mean she can’t. Of course it doesn’t mean she can either, I’ll give you that, but just because we haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean she is not able to.

        Finally, when it comes to age, it is true that Amy is in her mid 30’s. She is 10 years older than Janis was when she died. Is this really a problem? Hasn’t anyone ever heard of make-up? Besides, Janis may have been 27 when she died, but she looked like a woman in her late 30’s. She lived a hard life with drugs, alcohol, smoking and god knows what else. I don’t know why anyone is making a big deal about this one. It’s a non-issue.
        Look, I don’t claim to know that this is going to be Amy’s best performance. All I know is that she’s a good actress and I know she’ll do a good job. My point is that we shouldn’t judge her so harshly when we haven’t even seen her try. Let’s see a trailer first before we begin tossing tomatoes at her.

      • disgruntled redhead

        Absolutely, Victor. I always love how an actor starts getting successful and then people start complaining that they can’t act. The only movie I saw Amy Adams in where I didn’t like her was in Julie and Julia, but that was because I thought Julie Powell was a whiny bore. I say give Amy Adams a chance.

    • wooster182

      I hope she’d do a good job. I do love her. She was fabulous in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. But she butchered her part as Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum. I’m worried she can’t pull this off.

    • zero milligrams (o.m.g.)

      bianca taylor ryan as the young janis

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