Battle of the Biopics

With Bohemian Rhapsody hitting cinema screens nationwide and Elton John-focussed Rocketman due for a 2019 release, we spoke to five Strathclyde Telegraph writers to ask them who they’d make a musical biopic about, who they’d cast, and why.

1. David Bowie – Keira Thorburn-Scott

David Bowie has existed in a number of different eras, venturing from characters such as Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane. With such a weird and wonderful variety of costumes to hand,a documentation of his story on the big screen would be a visually stunning piece of art, not to mention a showcase of the music that we love all in one place. A biopic on David Bowie would be like jumping into his imagination, colourful and mysterious with a dark twist. Casting Bowie would be difficult; no one quite measures up to him. To find the perfect portrayal of the Goblin King, my choice would be something of a mash-up between Bill Skarsgård, Cillian Murphy and Ezra Miller. Perhaps the inability to find a perfect Bowie is the reason a biopic has not been made about him before. Regardless, a film about his life would be a roller-coaster; an amazing ride with dramatic highs and lows.

2. Frank Turner – Callum Manning

It’s time for a tale about a musician whose life has been a little less documented. I propose Frank Turner, the English folk rock singer. Turner has been through every level of the music business; from his beginnings in a successful punk rock band to his years of solo tours, the flurry of blows he’s taken for his political stances to his performance at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. His songs document his every rise and fall and paint a story I believe would translate very well to the cinematic experience. Frank, however, is less sure of the idea. “I haven’t really thought about any kind of biopic for myself just yet” he tells me, “I suppose you need to be a little older. like to think I’m still in the thick of things for now. Maybe someday, but I suspect it’s something that needs to be externally motivated and produced. I’m not sure making your own biopic makes a lot of sense, unless you’re Liberace or Kanye”. It may not be in the works anytime soon, but I still believe it’d be a fascinating film to watch.

3. Jimmy Page – Callum Ogilvie

One of the wildest guitarists of all time, Jimmy Page played for both The Yardbirds and most famously, Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin recorded a number of history’s greatest rock albums and put on some of the biggest performances the world had ever seen; Page famously turned Dazed and Confused, a four-minute song, into a 23-minute guitar solo that he played with a cello bow. But during this musical zenith, he faced a difficult struggle with drugs, apparently inflicted by his own drive to work. The perfect Page biopic would focus on this troubled point in his life, from the beginnings of his heroin habit, through his various failing, strange relationships (including a several-year-long relationship with ‘baby-groupie’ teenager Lori Mattix), and his interest in the occult, tto the end of Led Zeppelin in 1980 with drummer John Bonham’s alcohol-assisted death. Starring my acting pick. Edward Norton, this film would give a valuable insight into the life of a tortured and globally recognized superstar.

4. Lil Peep – Kirsty Crawford

We don’t need another biopic about a sad, dead, white boy? I hear you loud and clear, but Lil Peep is different. His death shook the alternative community in a way similar to Kurt Cobain’s, but his life saw him become a voice for a generation, appreciated by institutional emo/alt rock icons and hailed as a genuine innovator of new and unique sound. Peep’s life as a disconnected and depressed kid, growing up in the emo scene and dying the way he did, is often close to home for fans. His upwards trajectory would be an excellent focus of a biopic. His tragic death at 21 saw the end of a talent that was set to develop alternative music, binding tradition, sentiment and ingenuity. Evan Peters would be a prime choice, for the pale, handsome and troubled Peep. The overall aesthetic of the biopic would be grungy, flashy and psychedelic; reminiscent of Peep’s style.

5. Kurt Cobain – Sean MacDonald

The Nirvana frontman will always be regarded as a rock and grunge God. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana released three studio albums, two of which went platinum. and embarked on multiple tours around the world. Although the grunge movement was the platform for Nirvana to stand up and make a name for themselves, much of the band’s success was down to Cobain himself. Nirvana and Cobain’s music is still regarded as some of the most iconic and inspiring work in the history of alternative rock and has influenced other bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Oasis and, of course, Foo Fighters. My Kurt Cobain biopic would star actor Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim) and would focus on the entirety of his life. It would depict the young boy surrounded by music dealing with the stress and heartbreak of his parents’ divorce, and the man who was so overwhelmed by the pressures of fame, depression and heroin addiction he was driven to commit suicide at the age of twenty-seven.