We may only be a couple of days into the 2015 Cannes film festival, but the 20th-century icons are lining up on the Croisette; 24 hours after news broke that Noomi Rapace is to star in a biopic of the opera legend Maria Callas comes the announcement that Natalie Portman will play Jackie Kennedy in a film about the aftermath of the JFK assassination.
Chilean film-maker Pablo Larraín will direct Jackie, which, like the Callas film, is being pitched to investors at the Cannes film market.
The biopic also reunites Portman with Darren Aronofsky, who directed her Oscar-winning performance in the dark psychological thriller Black Swan, this time as a producer. The film is already being tipped as the most high profile of the dozens of fledgling projects looking for backing at this year’s market.
“Jackie talks about the days when Jackie Kennedy becomes an icon but has lost everything,” said Vincent Maraval of French firm Wild Bunch, which is selling the film. “It’s the Black Swan team reunited for Pablo Larraín.”
Larraín’s acclaimed drama The Club won the Berlin film festival’s Grand Jury prize in February, during an edition presided over by Aronofsky himself, and the American film-maker was said to be have been highly impressed. Portman also signed on after falling in love with the film about a group of priests living on a windswept island who are plunged into crisis when one of their number is accused of sexual abuse.
Larraín’s film is expected to centre on Kennedy’s courage in the four days following her husband’s assassination in Dallas on 22 November 1963, which won her admiration from Americans and people worldwide. It is not known if the biopic will also delve into conspiracies surrounding the assassination, such as those which have featured in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK, and others.
Larraín was announced as the director of Hollywood’s latest remake of Scarface in March last year. He hopes to film Jackie towards the end of this year.
Biopics, particularly those about famous 20th-century female icons, have proven troublesome territory for Hollywood in recent times. The Princess Diana biopic Diana was roundly scorned by critics despite the presence of Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts in the lead, and Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman fared little better in Grace of Monaco, Olivier Dahan’s much-maligned film about an episode in Grace Kelly’s post-Hollywood life.