Music biopics what a passion! | Curiosities about 5 films most loved by the public

If there is a film genre that in recent years has been dominating the box office around the world, it is the one defined with the term ‘biopic’. In other words, it is a film based on the reconstruction of the biography of a character who really existed – in this case – in the world of music. Films focused on the life of artists between excesses, great successes and looks studied and become iconic in the fashion world.

Although it was difficult to choose only five films to analyze, surely you have seen at least one of the titles that you will find below. Curiosities, backstage anecdotes and unpublished stories, will surely make you see these musical biopics with different eyes.

Ray (2004)

To open the dance is Ray written and directed by Taylor Hackford with an extraordinary Jamie Foxx as the blind singer Ray Charles. A masterful interpretation that led him to win a Golden Globe, a Bafta and the Academy Award for Best Actor. Although Foxx did not vocally interpret the songs, all the songs featured in the film like What I’d Say they were played by the actor.

Despite the great success, it was not easy to be able to bring this film to the cinema. As told by Hackford himself, it took 15 years to find the necessary funding for the making of the film. To turn this dream into reality, Philip Anschutz succeeded with Bristol Bay, managing to complete the financial picture.

Although Ray Charles passed away in 2004, a few months before its release in theaters, the singer was able to read the script. To facilitate reading, a copy was created in Braille, so that it could be modified if necessary. And according to some testimonies, the singer only disagreed for two scenes. The first concerned the sequence in which the actor should play the piano with resentment. And then when Ray showed how to take cocaine to one of his lovers.

Read also: Django Unchained: Jamie Foxx’s song


Judy (2019)

Another biopic that has left its mark on the world of cinema is Judy released exactly 50 years after the death of the famous artist. Directed by Rupert Gooldthe enchanting Renée Zellweger had the burden and the honor of playing the role of the unforgettable Judy Garland. Her performance remained in the hearts of the public, allowed her to win prestigious awards. In particular, a BAFTA, a Critic’s Choice Awards, a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Zellweger, in order to resemble Garland as much as possible, has been working on her voice for more than a year, so that she could get closer to the original. Work succeeded very well, thanks to the work done by vocal coach Eric Vetro, leading her to perform in impeccable performances. The make-up curated by Jeremy Woodhead, to adapt the facial features of the actress to Garland, saw him work a lot on the shape of her nose. Subsequently, the makeup artist resorted to using dark gray contact lenses, to revive Judy’s brown. And finally, a brown and auburn wig, to complete the outfit and hide the actress’s blonde hair.

Read also: Judy, Oscar winner Renée Zelleweger is Judy Garland


Bohemian Rhapsody (2019)

The curiosities around the film directed first by Bryan Singer and then by Dexter Fletcher they are many and very interesting. Not everyone knows that among the producers of this musical biopic that has entered the history of cinema, the name of appears Robert De Niro. Also involved in the production of the musical We Will Rock You, always inspired by the famous songs of Queen.

Focused on the life of the singer Freddie Mercury, the musical biopic has had a careful processing that lasted 10 years. To slow down the first take, there were two very large rocks. The first was about finding a director who was up to it and the second, an actor who could make the Freddie myth shine again.

Just this last aspect, for many months led the various agencies to put forward names, promptly denied shortly after. Before Rami Malek, the name given for sure to play Freddie Mercury, for a long time was that of Sacha Baron Cohen. His involvement was so extensive that he also took care of the recruitment of part of the crew for the shoot. An interest that was too strong and overbearing, which also showed the actor’s desire to give the film a particularly daring artistic connotation. A characterization that was not only rejected by the historical components of Queen, but saw the abandonment of the Cohen project in 2013.

The word impossible does not exist …

And with the official role of Rami Malek as the lead singer of the English band, the music changed completely. The work done in symbiosis between the actor and the choreographer Polly Bennett made Malek’s performance in the musical biopic flawless. Still, he too found it difficult to play Freddie. The use of an important dental prosthesis – which he jealously guards even now – managed to put him in difficulty during the shoot. Faced with such a performance, awarding him the coveted golden Oscar for Best Actor was a mere formality.

Another complication that proved more difficult than expected was the rebuilding of part of the Wembley stadium. Symbolic place where the Live Aid concert was organized in 1985 with Bob Geldof. And so, the producers and set designers, to try to make the location more similar to the original, decided to occupy a part of London airport. A work so well executed, that it received the acclaim of the director who took care of the direction of the concert event.


Rocket Man (2019)

Curious as the director’s name Dexter Fletcher is present again in the direction of another musical biopic. Compared to the other titles mentioned above, Rocket Man has come to terms with the judgment of the person concerned, Sir. Elton John. The singer known for red hair and extravagant looks, was enthusiastic about this project from day one. Baptized as Reginald Dwight, the baronet has seen his life and his career brought to the big screen amidst joys and sorrows.

As in the other cases, also for Rocket Man the first actor who appeared to be close to signing was Tom Hardy. A name given for sure, which was soon ousted by a young actor and very similar to the young Elton. However, it was the voice of Taron Egerton. Thanks to the animated film Singon the notes of the famous piece by Elton John: I’ll Still Standingwas called and confirmed aboard one of the most anticipated musical biopics ever.

Read also: Rocketman, the review of the musical biopic on the life of Elton John

The artistic harmony between Egerton and John was immediate, so much so that the latter did not spare himself in giving advice on how to face this tough test. “Don’t imitate me too perfectly, give the audience your interpretation, show them how the artist has evolved over time”. Partnership made even stronger by the ability to Taron Egerton to interpret all the passages in the biopic. Including an unreleased song (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again, written by Elton John to duet it with his contemporary alter ego in the film.

The work done by the actor was very intense, especially from the vocal point of view. The three hours a day, five days a week and with a timeline of about eight weeks, saw him prepare for the 22 songs included in the film. Rocket Man remains one of Egerton’s best films, so much so that he won his first Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Film.


Elvis (2022)

After years of silence, the director Baz Luhrmann has returned to conquer cinemas all over the world, in a big way. Shot in full pandemic, this act of love towards the King of Rock, entitled Elvis finally saw the light last June 22nd.

To conquer the audience, the interpretation of the young actor Austin Butler, as the charming and provocative Elvis Presley. Not particularly well known to the general public, Butler managed to draw all attention to him, just as Elvis did in his time. But before him, who was taken into consideration? Two were the names that until the last were given to the most eligible candidates: the singer Harry Styles (Dunkirk) and the talented Miles Teller (Top Gun: Maverick). But given the success of both, neither of them lived up to the director’s expectations, determined to choose someone yet to shape.

To convince Luhrmann to choose the blond with the good boy face was a response that gave Butler during the audition. When asked what he looked like made him feel close to Elvis, the young man replied that his mother died when he was 23 years old. A tragic event, which also occurred in the life of the Memphis singer.

And speaking of family, the one true love of Elvis’ life, his ex-wife Priscilla Presley, was one of the biggest supporters of this biopic. A fundamental presence for the director, so much so that he made her participate in the various stages of the film’s making.

Read also: Elvis | the myth relives in an extraordinary film to its “excess”

Austin Butler is the new Elvis Presley 2.0

The other elements that led Luhramann to choose Austin with extreme conviction, his predisposition and knowledge of the guitar instrument. Between movements of the pelvis and movements that have become a cult of Elvis, he saw the actor working vocally in an almost obsessive way. Following the poor audio quality of the songs from the 60s, the director decided to mix Elvis’s voice with Austin’s, to give life to a result that is as close to the original as possible. An experiment that turned out to be so successful that it was applied to all the other songs in the film.

Contributing to the success of the musical biopic Elvis, were some experiences lived by the actor and director. First of all, the hours spent in the rehearsal room to accurately study the movements of the king of the pelvic movement, to be brought back on stage. Secondly, the possibility of having lived for 18 months in Graceland, the historic estate of Elvis. And the chance for both of them to visit the singer’s historic recording studio in Nashville.

If there’s one aspect that strikes you immediately, besides Austin’s resemblance to Elvis, it’s the costumes curated by four-time Oscar winner Catherine Martin, the director’s wife. Thanks to the videos of the time and his artistic flair, 90 costumes worn by Austin Butler were designed and made during the film.

Music biopics what a passion! | Curiosities about 5 films most loved by the public