According to producer Peter Newman, who’s been trying to put together a Joplin flick along with his partners for the past 12 years, Arianda will sing all of Joplin’s music. That’s no easy task, especially trying to capture Joplin’s signature grit, but Newman says he’s confident in his star’s talents.
“I’ve never in my life seen an actress walk on a stage and convey the duality of vulnerability with overheated sexuality, which is what Janis was all about,” Newman told Deadline.
While this isn’t Arianda’s first foray into film – she’s held supporting roles in Midnight -n Paris, Tower Heist and others – it will be her first major starring role. The actress won acclaim and a Tony for best actress in a play for her turn in the Broadway show Venus in Fur. Meanwhile, director Durkin broke out last year with his film Martha Marcy May Marlene, which garnered plenty of praise at festivals and landed him the Best Director honor at Sundance.
Joplin will focus on the last six months of the Texas-born musician’s career, though it will also include flashbacks to her early career. The film has exclusive rights to use 21 of Joplin’s best known tracks.
While there have been other attempts to produce a Joplin biopic, especially as Newman’s sat on the back-burner, the producer had scored Joplin’s crucial song and life rights as well as the arrangements by backing band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Newman also holds the rights to the collection of letters Love, Janis and Piece of My Heart, the book written by Rolling Stone reporter David Dalton, who traveled with Joplin during the six months before the heroin overdose that killed her in 1970.