Exclusive: Richard Linklater, Ben Platt, Beanie Feldstein Team for Sondheim Musical

     August 29, 2019

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Filmmaker Richard Linklater, whose ambitious 2014 film Boyhood spanned the course of 12 years and was nominated for six Oscars, is directing a new multi-year movie that will star Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein, multiple sources tell Collider.

Linklater’s longtime collaborator Ginger Sledge is producing the ambitious project, and sources say that Jason Blum and his Blumhouse banner are also involved. The film is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim‘s acclaimed musical Merrily We Roll Along, which itself was based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The play takes place over the course of 20 years, and sources say that Linklater plans to stay true to that timeline. Representatives for Linklater, Platt, Feldstein and Blumhouse did not respond to requests for comment.

Merrily We Roll Along follows Franklin Shepard, a talented Broadway composer who abandons his theater career in New York and all his friends in order to produce movies in Los Angeles. Like the play, the musical begins at the height of his Hollywood fame and moves backwards in time, showing snapshots of the most important moments in Frank’s life that shaped the man he is today. Feldstein will play Frank’s best friend, theater critic Mary Flynn. Sources say the film is being shot in reverse chronological order, as the play and musical end when the characters are in their mid-20s and just embarking on their entertainment careers.

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Image via Universal Pictures

Platt is the star of the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen and Ryan Murphy‘s upcoming Netflix series The Politician. He co-starred in the first two Pitch Perfect movies, and he and Feldstein previously shared the screen in Whitney Cummings‘ indie comedy The Female Brain.

Feldstein has enjoyed a steady rise on the big screen over the last several years. She started out as a scene-stealer in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising before landing a breakout role in Lady Bird as Saoirse Ronan‘s best friend. Her force-of-nature turn in Olivia Wilde‘s critically acclaimed comedy Booksmart, however, has taken her career to the next level, which has apparently led to this ambitious Linklater film.

Up next for Feldstein is the indie comedy How to Build a Girl, which pairs her with Emma Thompson and Chris O’Dowd, as well as A24’s The Humans, from power producer Scott Rudin. Feldstein will star alongside Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun and Richard Jenkins. And as a fan of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Feldstein also appears on that show, which as you might expect, is really funny.

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Image via Black-Bernstein Productions

Linklater personally earned three Oscar nominations for writing, directing and producing Boyhood, and he earned two more Oscar noms for co-writing entries in the Before trilogy with Julie Delpy and Kim Krizan. His next film, an adaptation of the bestselling novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette, hits theaters on Aug. 16, and stars Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne.

Linklater is represented by CAA and Cinetic Media, while Platt is repped by CAA, One Entertainment and attorney Michael A. Auerbach. Feldstein is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney Daniel Passman.

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