Who will be the next person to play iconic musician Bob Dylan on the big screen? The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind…it’s Timothée Chalamet.
The young performer is in negotiations to play Dylan in Going Electric, a new film by Logan and Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold which is set during the mid 1960s, when Dylan transitioned from playing acoustic folk music to plugging in and jamming to some rock ‘n roll songs – much to the chagrin of the folk purist fan community.
Deadline brings word about the new movie, explaining that the real Bob Dylan is “working actively” on it with Mangold and Fox Searchlight. Dylan himself just appeared in the confounding half-true, half-fiction documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese for Netflix last year, so he appears to be in a particularly creative mood these days. The outlet reports that Chalamet is already taking guitar lessons “so he can familiarize himself with the acoustic and electric guitar,” presumably to look more authentic when cameras begin to roll. (As someone who has a sharp eye for noticing when people don’t do the work to play a convincing musician on screen, I appreciate the effort when it’s done right.) Dylan’s music rights are part of the package for this movie, though it’s still unclear if Chalamet is going to actually sing the songs himself.
Mangold has directed a musician biopic once before, with the Joaquin Phoenix starrer Walk the Line back in 2004. That was a pretty traditional story tracing the rise of Johnny Cash and his relationship with fellow musician June Carter; this movie sounds much more concentrated instead of a typical cradle to the grave biopic. It’ll follow Dylan, who’s already blown up as a folk star with the likes of Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, as he decides to put his acoustic aside and go electric for the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. The response was instantly divisive, with some vocal fans calling Dylan a traitor to the folk scene and others hailing his willingness to expand his sound.
For Mangold, someone who’s previously warned against the effects that outspoken fandoms may have on the future creativity of familiar franchises, this seems like an opportunity to tackle that idea head on, continuing the celebration of creativity and artistry under fire that he laid out in last year’s Ford v Ferrari.