The forthcoming Bob Dylan biopic, A Complete Unknown, is based on Elijah Wald’s 2015 book Dylan Goes Electric and will star Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy) as the iconic singer and songwriter. A Complete Unknown is set to begin filming in August with Chalamet poised to do his own singing. James Mangold (Walk the Line) who will direct the movie revealed that key figures in Dylan’s story such as Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger would be part of it. The Searchlight Pictures project was first announced three years ago. The script is to be written by Jay Cocks.
The film centers on how Dylan controversially revolutionized folk music by “plugging in” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. According to Mangold: “It’s such an amazing time in American culture and the story of a young, 19-year-old Bob Dylan coming to New York with like two dollars in his pocket and becoming a worldwide sensation within three years – first being embraced into the family of folk music in New York and then, of course, kind of outrunning them at a certain point as his star rises so beyond belief. It’s such an interesting true story and about such an interesting moment in the American scene.”
The 27-year-old Chalamet began his career as a teenager including an appearance in the series Homeland in 2012 and came to prominence in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name in 2017, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. His most recent picture was last year’s romantic horror Bones and All as a young cannibal. He will return to the screen later this year in both Dune: Part Two and Wonka. In what may be shaping up to be a revived trend and like Austin Butler in the 2022 musical biopic Elvis, Chalamet will not only be lending his vocals to the film but will also sing in the upcoming Wonka.
In 2017, Mangold told Rolling Stone he was on the lookout for another music biopic following his Walk the Line film about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash which starred Reese Witherspoon winning an Oscar for her performance and Joaquin Phoenix picking up a nomination for his role as the country legend. “There’s been a couple of instances where I’ve actually approached artists,” Mangold said. “The trick is always, are they ready for that kind of treatment? And do you have something original to say? It’s not good enough that they wrote great music or changed music history. You actually absolutely have to have a story. And there’s many places where there’s these stories that are fabulous, but will they ever let you make them into a movie?”
Mangold is headed to Cannes in May for the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and was recently announced as the director of a new Star Wars flick. He’s also planning to work with the James Gunn-led DC Studios on a Swamp Thing film.
Photo: Getty Images
This will be cool, Sharon, centering around Dylan @ Newport. Essentially the “birth” of one of my all-time fave genres, alt-country electric guitar rock.
Oops. Typo. “Iconic.” Sorry — and thanks…
Concept sounds interesting. We usually see. Dylan has been around 61 years since his debut album and in a month Bob will be 82. I have read a biography on him before and there are three, at least, documentaries on him. No Direction Home, Dylan After The Crash and a two hour 2001 Biography Show on A&E called An American Troubadour. There is also No Looking Back a film looking back at his 1965-66 tour when he landed in the UK. And Rolling Thunder Revue tour concert footage that came out a few years ago in 2019 or 2020.
That would be *Don’t Look Back…by DA Pennebaker
Just remembered there is also a release of his performances at the Newport Folk Festivals. Ten years worth. Unfortunately they only have released three songs from the set in 1965 when he went electric. In fact, after boos he went off stage but returned and preformed two or three more songs which I found on YouTube on audio format. The attempt to a movie about sounds great.
It’s called “Don’t Look Back.” Directed by DA Pennebaker
I just finished a Unit on this with my History of Rock’n’Roll class. There are a lot of factors I hope they don’t miss in the movie. I’ll be curious to see this.
Bio pics are comic books for the post literate. Those who can read, look, listen don’t sit through them.