Janis Joplin was an enigma. As a kid, friends thought she would become a painter — she found refuge from not fitting in by putting her view of the world on canvas. She was chubby with bad acne and mostly shunned by other girls.
But had she not been, she might have missed a guy friend’s introduction to Leadbelly — and the blues. And once Janis fell in love with the blues, she, quite literally, found her voice.
By the time she got to Woodstock, she was a symbol of the hippie movement — a fan of free love (with both men and women) and not-so-free psychedelics — with a deliberately created image (she called it “Janis Joplin in a box”) and a custom painted Porsche.
Despite her carefree style, however, she was something of an intellectual, well read in literature, history and philosophy. And when she died of a heroin overdose in 1970, she also became a legend.
A movie biopic about Janis seems inevitable, but so far, the planets haven’t aligned to make it so. Peter Newman acquired the rights to Joplin’s biggest hits almost ten years ago to produce The Gospel According to Janis. Lily Taylor, Pink and Zooey Deschanel have all been attached to play Joplin.
A competing project, Piece of My Heart, was set to star Renee Zellweger — but the pieces never quite came together.
Now a third project, first discussed in 2003, has been resurrected. The movie, Get It While You Can, originally slated Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) as director and Reese Witherspoon as Janis. Now Fernando Meirelles (City of God) is on board to direct with a new star: Amy Adams.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Amy Adams. I’ve been a fan since Junebug and may be one of the few people in the universe who thought she held her own in Julie and Julia. But I’m not sure that playing characters whose names start with J qualifies her to be Janis.
For one thing, she’s a bit too pretty, IMO. I know makeup can do wonders, but I haven’t seen Adams do the kind of tortured, rough-around-the-edges portrayal needed for Janis. And we know she has a lovely voice for show tunes, but can she belt out “Bobby McGee”?
I suspect that doubts about whether Adams can do Joplin are the very reason she took the part. But is that enough reason to give it to her? I’m unconvinced. I mean really, has she ever eaten a cat?
How about you? Do you think Amy Adams has the chops to play Janis Joplin? Will this movie ever get made? Who’s your choice for the ’60s icon?