Joey Ramone died 20 years ago, on April 15th, 2001, and Netflix marked the occasion on Thursday by announcing that Pete Davidson will play the punk icon in a biopic. It will be based on I Slept With Joey Ramone, a 2009 book by his brother, Mickey Leigh.
Davidson may be three inches shorter than the 6-foot-6 Ramones lead singer, but he has a similar body frame, and side-by-side photos provided by Netflix do make the case that he’ll be able to pull off the role once he’s given a wig and his tattoos (which he’s in the process of removing) are covered by makeup.
I Slept With Joey Ramone traces the entire life of the singer, though it’s unclear if the movie adaption will take the same approach. But if the film follows the story at least through the final Ramones tour of 1996, it’s not hard to imagine Davidson in sunglasses and a David Letterman T-shirt recreating a clip like this one, which shows the group playing “The KKK Took My Baby Away” in front of a wild crowd in Argentina that year. They just have to find actors who can play not just Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, and Tommy Ramone, but also latter-day band members like Marky Ramone and C.J. Ramone.
I Slept With Joey Ramone is one of a flood of rock biopics in the works after the huge success of Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. One of the most notable ones features Timothée Chalamet as Bob Dylan in a film directed by James Mangold. It’s probably going to focus on his younger days, but if they take the action to 1985, there can be a crossover scene during the making of Steve Van Zandt’s “Sun City” where Chalamet’s Dylan meets Davidson’s Ramone.
Danny Boyle is also adapting Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol by guitarist Steve Jones into a limited series on FX. The Pistols loved the Ramones and saw them at London’s Roundhouse on July 4th, 1976. This creates all sorts of crossover opportunities in an expanded movie universe of Seventies punk, especially since the Clash were there as well. (It seems like only a matter of time until we’re hit with a Clash movie.)
All of this is skirting the fact that rock biopics are almost always deeply unsatisfying, not to mention historically inaccurate to ludicrous degrees. That said, Pete Davidson as Joey Ramone is a cool idea. Maybe this will be a rare one that they actually pull off.