It’s a familiar tale. Troubled musician consults on Hollywood biopic before tragically passing on to that great gig in the sky. The finished movie is then unveiled at a major film festival and goes on to earn plaudits aplenty – including an Oscar for its star.
It worked for Taylor Hackford with Ray and now James Mangold is hoping to follow in his footsteps with Walk The Line, the story of country legend Johnny Cash. “I had the advantage of making a movie about a man who understood life's lonelinesses and life's mistakes,” Mangold said in Toronto, “and that people make them. In that sense, he wasn't interested in hiding them.”
It’s too early to tell if Oscar will come calling for Joaquin Phoenix, although he is outstanding as Cash. He even does his own singing in the film, as does Reese Witherspoon, playing the love of Cash’s life June Carter.
Mangold doesn’t shy away from showing the unvarnished truth about Cash’s addictions, which is exactly how the singer wanted it. “He would always say to me, ‘I don't care if I look bad because they were my mistakes,’” says the director.
Next on the musical biopic bandwagon: Orlando Bloom plays both brothers in Skye No More, The Proclaimers’ story. Kidding.