Michelle Williams is in early talks to portray Janis Joplin in a big-screen biopic, a role that has attracted and disappointed a very long list of actresses going back decades. This particular project — Janis, based on the book Love, Janis that inspired the stage musical of that name — has director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) attached and at one time was to star Nina Arianda.
The Love, Janis book, written by Joplin’s sister Laura Joplin and built around a series of letters written by the ’60s icon to her Texas family, featured heavily in director Amy Berg’s 2015 documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue.
Deadline has confirmed Williams’ interest in the biopic. If made, the movie would cap Hollywood’s decades-long interest in the rock singer, who died at 27 on October 4, 1970, of a heroin overdose. Attempts began almost immediately after her death, with interest dwindling once Bette Midler starred in a fictionalized version with 1979’s The Rose, then rekindled in the 1990s when Melissa Etheridge and Lili Taylor got on board separate projects. Renee Zellweger and Pink also have tried and failed, with projects sunk by music rights issues, squabbles with the Joplin estate and intrigued actresses eventually aging out of contention.