Home Movies Jake Gyllenhaal to Play Famed Late Composer Conductor Leonard Bernstein in BioPic

Jake Gyllenhaal is out there looking for Oscar material and he may have found it.

Jake has signed to play the late composer (with Stephen Sondheim) of “West Side Story” and conductor Leonard Bernstein in a movie tentatively titled “The American.” Let’s hope they change that once the film is being made.

Bernstein, of course, lived larger than life, with a wife, children, and a whole gay life. He lived it at the Dakota on the Upper West Side, which was the grandest setting he could find.

The movie is based on a book by Humphrey Burton. Says a press release: In five movements, like a symphony, “The American” follows Leonard Bernstein from conducting the New York Philharmonic at the impressive age of 25 through the meteoric rise to fame, all while struggling both personally and publicly to be everything that everyone expected him to be, most of all himself.

Cary Joji Fukunaga, of “True Detective” and “Beasts of No Nation” fame, is directing and producing along with Gyllehaal’s production company and Sierra/Affinity.

Gyllenhaal says in a release: “Like many people, Leonard Bernstein found his way into my life and heart through West Side Story when I was a kid. But as I got older and started to learn about the scope of his work, I began to understand the extent of his unparalleled contribution and the debt of gratitude modern American culture owes him. As a man, Bernstein was a fascinating figure—full of genius and contradiction—and it will be an incredible honor to tell his story with a talent and friend like Cary.”

The press release says the screenplay by Michael Mitnick is based on the Burton book but that it’s also “an original idea.” Two of the producers listed are married couple Adam Gopnick and Martha Parker; he’s an editor at  The New Yorker and she has credits in art departments as an assistant on a few films.

 

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