Documentary filmmaker Ondi Timoner’s biopic of revolutionary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is heading into production in July.
James Franco was originally set to star as Mapplethorpe before being replaced by Matt Smith (Dr. Who, The Crown), and Zosia Mamet (Girls) was also set to star as his longtime friend and onetime soulmate Patti Smith before dropping out due to a scheduling conflict, per IndieWire. Boston Divas Productions will produce alongside Timoner’s Interloper Films.
Mapplethorpe will follow the photographer’s life from his quick rise to fame in the 1970s to his death in 1989 from AIDS complications. Mapplethorpe was famous for his explicitly homoerotic male nudes and black-and-white portraits of celebrities including Deborah Harry, Andy Warhol and Grace Jones. His photography of the underground BDSM scene in New York also fueled a national debate over the public funding of controversial artwork.
Timoner’s past work includes 2015’s Brand: A Second Coming, following comedian Russell Brand and his struggles with addiction. She has won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice with her 2009 film We Live in Public about alternate investor Josh Harris and her 2004 music documentary Dig! about American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols.