Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!

Let the Sunshine In, Deadpool 2, Tully, Ready Player 1, and ❤️ for Disobedience


Comment Fun

Soundtracking: Lion King

"I never thought of "Circle of Life" as being the most impactful song of the film until your post." - Jess

"This is my fav Disney movie of all time. The African theme, the Hamlet theme, the animals, the swahili and use of Afrikaans is magnificent!" - Manuel


Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 470 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience


What'cha Looking For?
« Review: "Logan Lucky" | Main | Belated Paychecks with America's Highest Paid Spokes-Actresses »

"Sunset Boulevard" Rumors... Again.

by Nathaniel R

She's baaaa-aaack. It's AS IF WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE

You may have heard that plans are afoot (again) to bring Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard musical to the big screen. It will be a Paramount Pictures production. For giggles, I was attempting to find an old article from the last time rumors spread that Glenn Close was going to transfer her Tony success to the big screen and republish it nearly intact "As If We Never Said Goodbye" to this rumor (haha. I'm here all week.) Alas, the article hid itself though I remember writing it. But what year to even search for such a thing? This rumor is perennial...

Sunset Blvd famously began its cultural life as an original noir from Billy Wilder in 1950 -- only one of the greatest movies of all time, no biggie. Fortyish years later it was musicalized by then hit-maker Andrew Lloyd Webber. Within its first three years or productions the musical was beset by all sort of offstage drama regarding its leading lady (Ria Jones played the role in its first abridged showcase in 1991 and when it went to traditional theaters Patti Lupone took over. Glenn Close replaced her for the Broadway run sparking a lawsuit from LuPone! Since then the role of Norma Desmond, which will forever belong to Gloria Swanson from the 1950 film, has gone through other actresses (including Diahann Carroll and Betty Buckley) but came back round to Broadway again with Glenn Close reprising her role more than twenty years later.

Gloria Swanson was 51 years old when Sunset Blvd hit theaters in 1950 and Glenn Close was 48 years old when she won the Tony for the same role on Broadway. Rumors have been blooming and dying ever since that she'll reprise the role on screen. Glenn Close is now 70 years old but the beauty of Norma Desmond is that she is, in an ironic sort of way, ageless. The actress playing her need only be a 'woman of a certain age' who prefers living within her more glamorous past and ignoring the reality of the now. 

Stage Joe Gillis's Kevin Anderson (early 90s), John Barrowman & Hugh Jackman (mid 90s), Michael Xavier (Broadway revival)

[CAST THIS TANGENT: As for who might direct or play the male co-lead Joe Gillis, there is only speculation and no actual news. Michael Xavier played the role in the Broadway revival but it's worth noting that a bonafide movie star Hugh Jackman also played this role on stage (albeit before the bonafide movie stardom). Who would you cast for a 2018 film version to follow in his footsteps or would you just go with Jackman since if Norma has aged up maybe her younger man can get older, too? /TANGENT]

I may not have much personal affection for this stage musical (like most of Webber's musicals the ratio of good songs to filler is agonizing) but let's hope it comes to film anyway. There's always a chance it could be improved with nips and tucks ...and a new song or two? As for whether or not Glenn Close could ever win that long elusive Oscar for it? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. It bears repeating that Gloria Swanson lost and wouldn't it be strange for someone else to win Hollywood's greatest honor by revamping her signature role?

more Glenn Close | more Broadway | more musicals

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (73)

a) I think Sunset Blvd is probably Lloyd Webber's best musical but that's entirely down to Billy Wilder's script. That thing is built. Not a lot of great songs, but at least three songs belong on the Lloyd Webber's grestest hits album.

b) It's intriguing how many Billy Wilder scripts have been adapted into musicals, actually. You've got Ninotchka (Silk Stockings), Some Like it Hot (Sugar), The Apartment (Promises, Promises), Sunset Blvd.. off the top of my head.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

At one point Petula Clark had played the part more times than any other actress. A few years back Lloyd Weber, in a television interview, said he wanted Madonna for the screen version, but she wasn't showing any interest.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe (UK)

If Glenn was to win if this does happen wouldn't the Oscar be for Glenn and Gloria as one great big sorry.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Glenn Swanson? Gloria Close?

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

After the Jackie Chan selection the Academy needs to shotgun her an honorary now.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Let's cast:

Norma Desmond - Glenn Close

Joe Gillis - Hugh Jackman or Armie Hammer or Matthias Shoenaerts or tom Hardy (????)

Max Von Mayerling - Max Von Sydow or Albert Finney

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Add Hugh Grant on my list for Joe Gillis

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

You don't mention that the play opened in London, starring Webber favorite Elaine Page. Then, after Betty Buckley left the Broadway version, Elaine Page came to a Broadway show for the first time in her career. I saw her in the final week, before Sunset closed. She was great!

One point at which there was talk of a film version was around 1995. And both Close and Barbra Streisand seemed to be vying for the role. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall Streisand had optioned the rights. The thing is that Glenn was in the TV movie "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Commermeyer Story" and Barbra Streisand was one of the Executive Producers. Jason Alexander was emceeing the Emmys, and the TV movie, Glenn Close and Judy Davis were nominated. Barbra Steinsand was nominated both for the film she exec produced and for her special "Barbra: The Concert". So they were both present. At one point, Alexander looked at Close, and making reference to her "friend" Streisand, he told Close words to this effect: "Everything is wonderful with Barbra, but if you dream that she'll let you do Sunset Boulevard, you're very much mistaken". That was a VERY awkward moment.

So, Nat, 1995 may be the year to try to find your article!

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Hmm. I'm not sure that clip makes a great case for Close.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

This is a disaster waiting to happen.

It's 2017 and I thought everybody would be over Andrew Lloyd Webber.

And Close should have learned that this larger-than-life-diva-typecast ruined her career! Somebody who had already played Alex Forrest, Merteiull and Cruella should not by any means approach a role like Norma Desmond, TWICE and in a musical?

I am glad that Annette Bening learned this lesson and, after an unbearable diva streak, she now looks for parts full of humanity. She's never veen better than in 20th Century Women and The Kids Are Alright.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Yeah, I remember Andrew Lloyd Webber saying several years ago that he wanted Madonna for the part...honestly that's probably the only way I'll get to watching this.

I just don't think it's that great of a musical, and it pales in comparison to the film version. And I know it's blasphemous to say on this site, but Glenn Close has never been one of my favorites. Her overt theatricality and projecting to the back row, in-yer-face acting style has never done it for me.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

No offense to Glenn, but Meryl Streep and Chris Pine would be perfect.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Only would be interested if Madonna did this

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyson

Jono- Streep and Pine all the way. I actually think I remember Streep wanting to this role at some point?

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Yep- found two articles with Streep desparate to play the role. Once in 1994, where she is quoted that this is the "role of a lifetime" and again in 2008 for a revival she was strongly considered and met with people but something fell through.
If Paramount is filming (and Streep has good connections there and is a bigger box office draw than Close) - could she be cast instead? Something to ponder.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I saw the latest Broadway revival with Glenn. She was never more alive than at the curtain call. She came back 5 times. 5.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

I have a great affection for this musical as I saw it in 1993 during my first ever trip to London when I was 11 (in the same three day stretch, I saw Phantom and Miss Saigon). My aunt and uncle didn't know if my cousin and I would 'get' the musical, but I remember so clearly leaping to my feet at the end (it was actually the understudy I saw, and she was magnificent). I think it's Webber's best since Evita. It could be nicely transferred with a couple of the filler songs removed, but I would imagine the temptation would be to bloat the musical out rather than refine and streamline it.

I do think Close is too old (and frankly, she had trouble singing the role in the recent London revival). Can Sharon Stone sing? What about Pfeiffer?

As for Joe Gillis, Chris Pine immediately leapt to mind. He's got a solid voice and he's proved he's got charm and range as an actor

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIanO

I have a vague recollection that Glenn Close had it written into her contract years ago that she would have first rights to the movie part. Whether or not she is the best choice is open to debate. I personally don't think she has a good singing voice. It would be a box office dud with her.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

I love the idea of Madonna doing this.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Sorry, this a LONG post. Forgive me! This is a tricky one to debate. I love Close. On the one hand, she seems too old for the part regardless of how they 'age' Norma. If Norma is an older woman (60s–70's), they would really have to rework the script. I would also think less songs and more script would be better suited for a film version.

Close said, at one point, she would never do a remake unless it was something fresh and original. Well, what happened to South Pacific? That was abysmal. Close looked great for her age (I believe she was 54), but the role was all wrong for her at the time. Maybe 10–15 years younger, and she might have suited it more.

There was another reboot of SB between 2005–2007. It's the same scenario as South Pacific, only in reverse – bad timing. Close aged very well into her early 60's. BUT ... now she's 70. Unless you're Jane Fonda and love plastic surgery, you're going to age. Norma Desmond could become another South Pacific if the writers aren't careful.

I'm sure Paramount is thinking awards if they're going to undertake a story that will most likely appeal to so little of the movie–going public today. It's a young–person's world where cinema is concerned. If Close is passed over (everyone in the business knows she wants the role), I think she'll be devastated and pull another Albert Nobbs. In other words, she'll produce her own project. Maybe it would be something Shakespearean. She said she'd love to do a Mary Queen of Scots type of deal and that 'Americans need more exposure to classical literature on the screen.'

As for who else could play this role, Madonna could work, but could she convey all that emotion? I like Madonna, but thinking of awards, she won't fit the bill. The academy isn't interested in her. Streep, of course, gets much of what she wants in comparison, and she could certainly do the role justice. Personally, I think she's had way too much of the big stuff. Too many other great actresses get sidelined because of her. Actresses like Close and Bening are equally good, if not better in some cases. It's hard for me to see Bening pulling this off as well. Maybe it's the singing. Midler would be interesting in a way. Streisand I can't see – the singing yes. Both Midler and Streisand have had work done, so they look younger than 70s+. Pfeiffer, Stone, Linney, Allen, and whoever else, well, I don't see it, but then Close has owned this role in theatre as Swanson owned it on film. It's hard to imagine the latter actresses in the role, but who knows ... .

Anyway, I hope Close gets a competitive Oscar for something. She just needs one good role in a good–enough film, and I think she's golden, so to speak. However, that's easier said than done for women over 70 in Hollywood. Here's wishing her the best!!

By the way, autocorrect is a b****!

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Is it bad that the last line just made me imagine the whole thing with Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney/Norma Desmond? I never got the hype for this song, it feels so rambly and reverential and not what Gloria Swanson was doing at all, and Close doesn't really help. I'm not a huge Webber fan but this isn't making his case for me.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

I saw SUNSET in April and was completely blown away by Close - for sure one of the finest stage turns I've seen, even if she wasn't quite as exhilarating as Swanson. That said...the show itself is pretty middling stuff, totally inferior to the film in every respect. It really only has two great songs, both performed by Norma, and when its leading lady isn't gracing the proceedings, the piece is a real bore.

That said, for Close alone, I'm down. I'm partial to Jake Gyllenhaal for Joe and either Kevin Kline or John Lithgow for Max. Also, pretty please don't let Rob Marshall near this.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

honestly for once I think Streep would be terrible for a part, not because she gets too many parts but because she would just simply be terrible for it no matter how good her performance was. Sunset Boulevard loses ALL of its meta deliciousness if you cast someone how it at the peak of their fame to play someone who hasn't seen the peak of their fame for a long time. That's the whole story of the role. Streep is more famous and successful than she's ever been. It would absolutely ruin the meaning of the entire show were she to be cast.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

aaron -- i get those criticisms of Close (she's not personally one of my very favorite actresses though I definitely think she should have won the Oscar by now) but this role DEMANDS the tyep of acting you're criticizing -- over theatricality and playing to the back row. That, in addition to the stunt casting demands of the role (you HAVE to cast this with a faded superstar... that's what the role is. see also: Gloria Swanson long past her superstardom getting that plum gig and absolutely nailing it) is exactly what the role calls for.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Did someone say faded? Send me the contract ASAP!

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDouglas Graham

I love Streep. But this movie role would ruin
her forever after. Give it to Close

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenternatalie

Nathaniel- you make a good point about Streep. Maybe if she had been cast in 1990's before her career renaissance

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Is Ryan Murphy directing this? No

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

Ryan Murphy has been in talks to direct but nothing confirmed.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

With proper make-up, Nicole Kidman can pull this off. It might land her her second Oscar. Fingers crossed.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentergoodbar

Wanting to cast Madonna shows how out of touch Lloyd Webber has always been when it comes to casting...

Obviously he SHOULD be chasing Cher or trying to coax Tina Turner out of retirement.

I also feel (as great as Close is in the part) that this role NEEDS someone playing against type (the character is a nightmare, the actress should be a former America's Sweetheart)

In which case, can Meg Ryan sing?

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

Chris Pine or Sebastian Stan (if he can sing) would be excellent, and if they don't go with Close, I agree with Nathaniel it needs to be a faded former movie star. Can Kathleen Turner sing? Cause that could be awesome.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Betty Buckley was amazing as Norma. Close played her as a monster. Buckley made her human, and kind of sad.

I don't see a movie working. I'd rather watch the Billy Wilder original.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Chris Pine is Joe Gillis- he can sing and he will look hot in and out of those period clothes. Now the original movie is one of the true masterpieces of studio era Hollywood- it's going to be very hard to top it- but I would like to see it.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Okay I totally called this last year when she was doing it again and La La Land was doing really well.

I want Glenn Close to get her Best Actress Oscar, and if not, at least get a record for nominations. And I want Jake G for the dude.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I just don't see this happening. Musicals like Gypsy and Sunset Boulevard are dinosaurs. Glenn is 70 and has not lead a hit movie in 30 years. It has a Mame disaster vibe even in pre imagined form.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlbert Knob

I saw Sunset Boulevard last April and Glenn Close was close to perfection. I say close because I saw snippets of her Norma Desmond on Youtube ever since she completed her run of the musical. In those clips she was of strong voice, great projection and a theatricality that I think was absolutely needed for the role. In the 2017 Broadway show, she was vulnerable, not the monster that Close originated in the earlier version. I thought her wounded crow movements in the 2017 musical were extremely affecting -- her singing still an effective vehicle precisely because of diminished economies of scale. Her voice is still radiant but she transposed some notes to be able to carry it through. I bought that approach 100%. She came across as sad and immensely touching, emphasized even more by imperfect singing.

I hope Close can bring that vulnerability onscreen if ever this film version ever sees the light of day. Instead of Chris Pine I prefer someone like Billy Magnussen as Joe Gillis. Is Ewan McGregor considered too old? Maybe Oscar Isaac?

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

michelle pfeiffer - considering all the years she's been in semi-retirement she'd ace the comeback bit and she certainly had faces then [and now]. norma doesn't have to be an old bag, just a woman who aged out of old hollywood. plus la pfeiff could certainly sing it

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpar


If we do not take into account the meta factor, Meryl would be a better Norma that Close since she would be less over the top and more subtle (which is needed for a movie musical) plus she has a more capable voice than her at the moment.

But who wouldn't want Glenn Close to win a competitive Oscar and for THAT part ?

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDg

Oh yes please! Let this happen!

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

What a great discussion here. It's interesting to read everyone's perspective on this. If Close doesn't get the role, I hope it's not Streep. I mean, that would just be another blow to all the other fine actresses. Close has said that Norma is one of the greatest female roles for any woman to play. Apparently, Streep confirmed that 20+ years ago. Streep is terrific, but she's had enough already. The fact is, she'll still be getting roles after she's dead. She'll be nominated for her 100th Oscar playing a corpse lying in a coffin. No dialog, just FACES ... !

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I watched this clip over and over and over on Youtube since i was 15 and i never dared to imagine seeing it on stage but, last year, my dream came true with the London revival. So i have a big history with this musical, and with Close, who's my favorite actress ever since i saw 101 Dalmatians when i was 7.

I would be the first in line to see a move version of this, even if i'm very scared a bad director could ruin it. But i couldn't see anyone but Close in the lead role because, as you said it, Norma is ageless.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

Eva Green certainly has the authority and edge of madness intensity to play Norma. And she sings. I know Green is young, but - sporting some trying too hard retro glamour makeup - I think she could make you believe there was a much older woman - formidable and frightened - underneath. Those Eva Green eyes!
Chris Pine's a great suggestion for Joe. But does Robert Pattinson sing? He's done some great work lately. Just saw "Good Time" this weekend and - wow -he's terrific in it.
Caught the Diahann Carroll stage version about twenty years ago. And yes - the score is definitely weak. Norma Desmond's the BIG role, of course. So I remember being shocked that Carroll was completely outshone by former teen heart-throb Rex Smith. His Joe was complex and compelling. Who knew he had it in him?

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen

I cosign on Betty Buckley's Norma being stellar, but as a movie adaptation it would lose the meta elements, as she was never a moviestar.

If Sharon Stone can sing, she'd be great. She was MASSIVE and now her legacy has mainly shrunk to Total Recall and Basic Instinct (Casino too, if you're an Oscar completist). I could see her really tearing into Norma.

I also like the idea of CZJ. She's got the pipes and, apart from that unfortunate Tony performance, was really great in A Little Night's Music (and a tour de force in Chicago, of course). She'd probably need a strong director, though.

And the idea of TINA TURNER doing this is SO genius it makes my body ache. Or maybe Audra McDonald, too, if she does not look too young.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Yes I would recommend Meryl be cast in that role with the movie hopefully crashing and burning to the point where it will be the start of the 'decline' chapter in her career.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

I thought we already had this discussion during the last round of rumors and agreed Ewan McGregor for Joe Gillis and Ben Kingsley for Max. :)

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

You know who I can see in the role Kim Basinger.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I mean, if they really wanted to go wacko and meta (in true Sunset Boulevard fashion) they'd cast Patti in the picture and film the backyard scenes in the Andrew Loyd Webber Memorial Pool.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCharles O

I don't know where I've read this (maybe on this blog)...but hasn't Meryl gone on record saying she wouldn't accept this role if it were to be turned into a film (citing Glenn as her friend and the best choice for the part)?

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSoSue

Nobody seem to have mentioned the obvious - Liza is Norma! A once great movie musical star whose career faded.

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>