Tag Archives: Ben Whishaw

8 Biopics That Need to Be Made

The “biopic” seems to be a genre of never-ending possibilities. From politicians to serial killers to the inventor of windshield wipers, it seems like every semi-famous person with a life story worth telling gets the biopic treatment at some point. Here’s look at a few famous people yet to have their lives put to film that deserve the same attention.

Mitch Hedberg

Played by Steve Zahn

Hedberg earned a devoted following for his bizarre, stream-of-consciousness brand of humour (currently, Demitri Martin is pursuing a similar style), but had his career cut tragically short in 2005 from a drug overdose. Zahn not only physically resembles the late comedian, but may be one of the few working actors who is genuinely funny enough to do Hedberg’s material justice.

Jeff Buckley

Played by James Franco

Most famous for his seminal cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, Buckley only released one proper album (1994’s Grace) before tragically drowning in 1997. His haunting voice has struck a chord with critics and fans since. Though many are against the idea of making a Buckley biopic, the resemblance between Buckley and Franco is hard to deny. Franco did James Dean justice in the 2001 made-for-TV biopic, and I think that he’d do an equally great job with this enigmatic music hero.

Patti Smith

Played by Charlotte Gainsbourg

With her own musical talent and unconventionally good looks, Gainsbourg seems like a natural choice to play legendary punk Patti Smith. As well as proving her acting chops in I’m Not There and her fearlessness in Antichrist (or so I’ve heard – I’m far too weak-stomached to watch it), Gainsbourg exudes a natural cool that’s essential to pull off Smith’s persona. Maybe it’s something to do with being French?

Nick Drake

Played by Ben Whishaw

The diminutive Whishaw may be a bit short to play Drake (who is said to have been over six feet tall), but Whishaw has the alluring mystery needed to take on this enigmatic folk hero. During his career in the late 1960’s, Drake was a relatively obscure figure, but has since had a resurgence in popularity, long after his death in 1974. Whishaw (I’m Not There, Bright Star) has the kind of “old soul” aura about him that would fit with Drake’s music and mystery.

Jimi Hendrix

Played by Anthony Mackie

Mackie proved his acting chops in last year’s Oscar Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, and he seems like a natural choice to take on this legendary musician. With many of his contemporaries receiving the Hollywood treatment, it seems likely that Jimi’s time will come soon.

Kurt Cobain

Played by Joe Anderson

Whisperings of a Cobain biopic have given bloggers something to speculate about for a couple of years now. Ryan Gosling, James McAvoy, Ewan McGregor (who would’ve been a good choice…ten years ago), and Robert Pattinson (don’t worry, that one apparently isn’t true) have all had their names tossed around, but to me, Anderson seems like the obvious choice. The resemblance is uncanny, and on top of that, he’s the right age, and he proved that he has the vocal chops as Max in 2007’s Across the Universe.

Elliott Smith

Played by Paul Dano

Revered for his hushed, tuneful music, Elliott Smith’s legacy has only grown since his tragic death in 2003. Casting a biopic for this complicated figure would be tricky, but Paul Dano is one name that seems to fit. Thanks to films like Little Miss Sunshine and Gigantic, Dano has quickly become heavily associated with quirky indie films (sometimes to the point of type casting), and his offbeat style would likely suit a Smith biopic well.

Rob Sheffield

Played by Eddie Redmayne

Rock critic Sheffield’s memoir, Love is a Mixtape, chronicles his early adulthood, and the short time that he spent with his wife before her sudden, untimely death. The story could make a great movie, and Redmayne (a recent Tony winner for Reds) not only looks like Sheffield, but has a soulfulness that would serve the story well.

Favourite Working Actors

This list is clearly skewed young, but here are ten actors (plus a few honourable mentions and rising stars) that I love watching onscreen. Feel free to discuss my choices or share you own lists in the comments!

1. Robert Downey Jr.

Essential Filmography: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Tropic Thunder (2008), Chaplin (1992), Zodiac (2007)

Underappreciated Work: Wonderboys (2000)

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Essential Filmography: Capote (2005), Magnolia (1999), Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Underappreciated Work: Almost Famous (2000)

3. Daniel Day-Lewis

Essential Filmography: There Will Be Blood (2007), My Left Foot (1989), Gangs of New York (2002)

Underappreciated Work: The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)

4. Ryan Gosling

Essential Filmography: Half Nelson (2006), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), The Believer (2001)

Underappreciated Work: The United States of Leland (2003)

5. Casey Affleck

Essential Filmography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Underappreciated Work: Lonesome Jim (2006)

6. Leonardo DiCaprio

Essential Filmography: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1992), The Departed (2006), The Aviator (2002), Titanic (1997)

Underappreciated Work: Romeo + Juliet (1996)

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Essential Filmography: Mysterious Skin (2004), 500 Days of Summer (2009), Brick (2006)

Underappreciated Work: The Lookout (2007)

8. Ethan Hawke

Essential Filmography: Before Sunrise (1995), Dead Poets Society (1989), Training Day (2001)

Underappreciated Work: Reality Bites (1995)

9. Joaquin Phoenix

Essential Filmography: Walk the Line (2005), Gladiator (2000), Two Lovers (2009)

Underappreciated Work: Signs (2002)

10. Colin Firth

Essential Filmography: A Single Man (2009), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Underappreciated Work: Girl With a Pearl Earring(2003)

Honourable Mentions





Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking)
Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass)
Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire)
Edward Norton (The Score)
Guy Pearce (Memento)
Sam Rockwell (Snow Angels)

5 Promising Newcomers




Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sam Riley (Control)
Michael Angarano (Snow Angels)
Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma)

Bright Star (2009)

Bright Star has all the makings of your typical frothy period romance, but director Jane Campion wastes no time in proving that it is, in fact, the exact opposite of that. We meet feisty Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) right away, and her love of outlandish fashion and outspoken attitude makes her an immediately interesting protagonist. Fanny soon meets poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw), and despite their initial conflict and the fact that Keats earns virtually no living (thus preventing them from marrying), the two soon fall in love.

Everything about this movie is gorgeous. It’s beautifully shot, and every scene stands out as an artistic reflection of the emotions of the two young lovers. Interior shots add a perfect spill of light coming in through the window, while the scenes that take place outdoors are full of the vibrant colours and textures of nature. The languid feeling that rests comfortably on every scene feels like Campion’s signature on the film.

Stars Cornish and Whishaw are both fantastic in their respective roles. Cornish plays every facet of Fanny’s emotions with an honest mix of innocence and wisdom. Her sheltered world is blown apart by the artistic genius that unassumingly steps in, but Cornish’s Fanny is a worthy match for Keats’ enigmatic intensity. Whishaw never feels like he’s playing a typical biopic role. It doesn’t feel like we’re watching an actor portraying John Keats – it feels like Whishaw is John Keats. He’s a complicated individual, and though there’s an ever-present mystery to Keats, there’s enough genuine charm and heart in Whishaw’s performance to get the audience to become completely attached to the figure.

There may not be quite enough plot to stretch the movie out to two hours, but the simple story develops nicely over the course of the film, and the gorgeous visuals and multi-faceted performances largely prevent the film from dragging. It’s slow, dramatic and romantic, and that’s exactly how this story should be.

Despite being set in the past, Bright Star feels very modern, in many ways. The prim stuffiness of films like Becoming Jane is nowhere to be found. There’s a sexual tension that runs throughout, and the chemistry between Fanny and John crackles in the simplest of gestures – just knowing that they’re on the other side of the wall from each other creates a spark that full-on sex scenes in most movies lack. I came to care so deeply for these two characters and their relationship over the course of the film, and it truly is one of the most romantic films in recent years. I almost never cry at movies, but Bright Star had me welling up at various points, and it left me thinking about the story for days. Thanks to strong visuals, writing, and acting, Bright Star is a strikingly beautiful, engrossing film.