Nina Arianda In Tune With Joplin

For Martha Macy director Sean Durkin

With her troubled life and influential rock career, there are already at least two biopics about Janis Joplin bubbling away in the giant Hollywood development vats. Now one of them has switched out both its director and leading lady, with Martha Marcy May Marlene director Sean Durkin planning to put theatre star Nina Arianda onscreen in Joplin.

According to Deadline, the film will chronicle the final six months of Joplin’s life before her death from a heroin overdose at the shockingly early age of 27 in 1970. But there will also be flashbacks to her earlier days.

The real powerhouse behind this one is producer Peter Newman, who has been struggling for 12 years to get the project up and running. He has several key elements helping his case, including the exclusive rights to 21 of Joplin’s best-loved songs, letters from the singer that were published by her sister Laura, and David Dalton’s book Piece Of My Heart, written after he travelled with her during those last couple of years.

While Arianda is not a household name yet, she has just scored a Tony award for her performance in Venus In Furs on Broadway, which is where she caught the producer’s eye. “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 says.

Durkin, meanwhile, takes over the director’s chair from Penelope Spheeris, who had been attached and had, at different points, cast Pink and then Zooey Deschanel as Janis. Newman will be hoping that the new director and actress will finally get this thing made. We were hoping that Jenna Maroney would get the part, but we suppose this is probably a better idea.