A couple of weeks ago, the news broke that Zoysia Mamet will take on the role of Patti Smith in the much anticipated Mapplethrope biopic, written and directed by Ondi Timoner. Due to scheduling conflict, she has now been replaced by relatively new comer Marianne Rendón, known for her TV role in Imposters.
Timoner‘s project seems on the right track and is set to start filming on July 11th. They found their leading actress and even received the support of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, founded a year before the photographer’s death. What they do not have however is the support of Patti Smith herself who has yet to comment on her refusal.
The project started back in 2006 when Timoner first optioned the project based on a story by Bruce Goodrich. She then took her script to the Sundance Institute‘s feature film lab, with who she has had a long and fruitful relationship since 2004.
Her 2009 documentary We Live in Public on internet entrepreneur Josh Harris, won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as her 2004 documentary Dig on American rock band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols.
For the last two decades, Timoner has been tackling the ruthless and unforgiving music scene. Her most recent feature documentary, the 2015’s Brand: A Second Coming focused on actor-comedian Russell Brand and his journey through addiction. Mapplethorpe will however mark Timoner’s first narrative feature.
On her documentary work, Timoner has admitted that: “When I tell stories in documentary, I’m attempting to really make suspense-driven narratives”. A method, likely to resurface in her newest feature.
Timoner is quite excited about her new recruit, Marianna Rendón, and told reporters that: “She has a spunky, open energy and a spark that gives Robert what he needs to explore the world and himself, for the first time… Marianne has such charisma and versatility, I am convinced we are introducing a talent to the world of cinema and this is only the beginning”.
Rendón may have a short resume but for her role as the struggling artist Jules in Imposters, she admitted getting inspired by artists such as Sandra Bernhard, Eileen Miles and Patti Smith.
“It’s a very rich story about a cultural lightning rod, who in our country is probably one of the most controversial artists of all time”.
The film will focus on the life of the photographer from his debut in 1970’s to his death from AIDS in 1989.
To the influential singer, poet and author, Mapplethorpe was a friend, lover and constant inspiration. She met him when she first moved to New York from South Jersey in 1967. They were both on their way to international acclaim and yet still living in “glamorous poverty” in downtown New York.
Smith documented her relationship with Mapplethorpe in her 2010 memoir Just Kids and has credited the photographer as her “creative soulmate”.
The film, which will also include Matt Smith as Robert Mapplethrope, John Benjamin Hickey and Carolyn McCormick, is set for a 2018 release.