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Here Comes A Tennessee Williams Biopic

Recent indie upstart Broad Green has announced they are developing John Lahr's biography Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh for a biopic on the titular playwright. No talent is attached yet, but the potential is enticing.

Williams, legendary for work such as A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, has a life ready for any number of interpretations. Struggling with mental illness at an early age and battling rampant addiction, attracting and creating stars with consistently controversial and revolutionary writing, not to mention temptestous family and love lives - if nothing else, we have a catnip coctail for any actor who could fit the bill.

Could this be heading toward a fluffy, star-filled treatment a la Hitchcock or something more character-focused like Capote? Lahr's book, a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award winner, dives deeply into all aspects of Williams's life, so the adaptation could as easily become a "greatest hits" biopic as is it could focus intensely on a specific aspect of his career.

We rarely get to see the stories of our gay icons and early pioneers told on the big screen. The opportunity is especially exciting here considering how his sexuality impacted his work and pushed the boundaries about what could be talked about on stage and screen. Hopefully true to Williams' place in history, this will be an intriguing one to watch as it develops.

Tennessee Williams and his "Stanley Kowalski" Brando

Related: Much more on Tennessee Williams here

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Reader Comments (20)

exciting news indeed. Love this man and his work.

November 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Lahr's biography of Williams is sooo good. The scenes of Bette Davis diva-ing her way through rehearsals for Night of the Iguana on Broadway could be a film of their own.

I wonder how any biopic could reflect one of Lahr's chief strengths: how he analyzes the meaning, psychology and emotion behind the plays. Without that, you've got a pretty typically sordid tale of relationships gone wrong, addiction, early heights and extended slow-burn fade-out.

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

So happy this is happening even if it doesn't end up becoming a good movie! I'd like the story (or at least parts of it) of such an amazing individual to be out there in the form of a far-reaching medium as film. I can't really think of someone to play Williams but my current thought is Benjamin Walker unless they wait a few years, then Logan Lerman.

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Literally watched Streetcar Named Desire again two weeks ago. So Good!!! Such a genius!!! Who do you think should play him?

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

oh no.....I am seeing Johnny Depp! Thoughts?

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Tennessee was not tall, and far be it from me to suggest DiCaprio for anything, but Leo has that puffy, lizard look that Williams pretty quickly possessed...

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

Jimmy & Rick - it would be nice to see a queer actor take the reigns, but it might depend on what era is depicted to find the right actor.

November 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

In that pic above he resembles James McAvoy, who would be good in this role.

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

brookesboy - I could cosign that

November 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Ooooh, good one, brookesboy!

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

Williams had a extremely dramatic life- it could be a Showtime miniseries- the supporting cast alone is a who's who of late 20th century genius, not too mention sexy young men and Gore Vidal.

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Tennessee looks a bit like a clean shaven Nathaniel in that top picture? Maybe Nathaniel could play him!

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Please cast a queer actor in this role. Enough of the pinkface.

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHustler

Paul Dano

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatch

Idon't think I am liking the term "queer actor." and, when you think of it...haven't many queer actors played straight dudes?. how fair is that?

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy

No queer actor right for the part occurs to me at the moment, but I could see Dane DeHaan, Casey Affleck, Jude Law or Tom Hardy tackling it.

November 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Oh my God, Casey Affleck! That's a brilliant suggestion, at least physical similarity wise.
But, isn't Tom Hardy queer? I think he qualifies.

November 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I'd like to see someone young, beautiful, and talented playing Tennessee. So, not his whole life. Maybe ending with the success of A Streetcar Named Desire, and him realizing that he's free to write and he never has to take another shitty job again.

I think of someone like Alden Ehrenreich as Williams. He has qualities of another era. There's sweetness, intelligence, artistry, and optimism. What I love in the best productions of Williams' work is when they understand that witty lightness.

November 14, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Hustler -- i'm with you. Tired of straight actors being lauded for playing gay. there are plenty of gay actors out there and more and more of them are out. Plus, i miss the days when they would risk a biopic on an unknown actor. Nobody knew who Ben Kingsley was before Gandhi and look what happened with that!

Rob Miles -- huh. i never thought that but i feel flattered nonetheless as Tennessee is probably my favorite writer ever.

November 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

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