Now titled A Complete Unknown, director’s first music biopic since Walk the Line will begin production this August
Three years after it was revealed that Timothée Chalamet would star in a Bob Dylan biopic, director James Mangold has offered an update on the long-in-the-works A Complete Unknown.
Despite just being named as the director of an upcoming Star Wars film, Mangold told Collider at the Star Wars Celebration this week that the Dylan biopic — previously titled Going Electric before swapping with the “Like a Rolling Stone” lyric — will take precedence and begin production this August.
“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,” Mangold told Collider. “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.”
As for whether Chalamet will follow in the footsteps of Rocketman’s Taron Egerton and Elvis’ Austin Butler and bring his own vocals to Dylan’s music, Mangold replied, “Of course.” (As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Chalamet will also sing in the upcoming Wonka.)
As Rolling Stone reported in Jan. 2020 when the film was first announced, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, the then-hospitalized Woody Guthrie and other key figures of the folk scene will also be characters in the movie, which is based on Elijah Wald’s 2015 book Dylan Goes Electric and features a screenplay penned by Jay Cocks.
Three years earlier, in 2017, Mangold told Rolling Stone he was on the lookout for another music biopic following his Walk the Line, about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. “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?”