Janis Joplin biopic casts lead

The producers of the Janis Joplin biopic have decided against casting a celebrity in the central role, and have opted for award-winning stage actress Nina Arianda instead.

The project has been in development for 12 years, plenty of time to mull over the tricky task of finding an actress up to the tough role of the 1960s blues singer with the troubled personal life, who died in 1970 at the age of 27. At various times, Renee Zellweger, Zooey Deschanel and Pink were linked to the role, any of whom would have seemed completely inappropriate.

Arianda is better-known for her stage work, recently winning a Tony award for her lead role in the Broadway production Venus In Fur. She also appeared in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Producer Peter Newman said: "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."

With copyright issues often a major obstacle to musical biopics, the film has a head start in that Newman has secured the rights to 21 Joplin songs, which Arianda will perform in the film. The script is based on two books - Love, Janis, a collection of letters published by the singer's sister Laura Joplin, and Rolling Stone reporter David Dalton's Piece Of My Heart.

Shooting will begin in 2013, directed by Sean Durkin, whose Martha Marcy May Marlene was a critically-acclaimed debut this year. The film will focus on the last six months of Joplin’s career.

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