Four months after Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s near-universally adored drama about a young man (Miles Teller) who dreams of stardom as a drummer, took home the top prize at Sundance, Chazelle is working on his next project, a musical called La La Land, over at Lionsgate. Now, we’ve learned that the studio is in early talks with Teller and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson for the two lead roles.
La La Land focuses on a pair of dreamers – the desperately lonely Anna, who’s struggling to make her name as an actress, and the cocksure but charismatic Sebastian, a jazz pianist – who fall in love in Los Angeles. However, the competitive and cutthroat atmosphere of the city threatens to tear the two apart just as quickly as it brought them together.
Chazelle, who will both write and direct, is expected to reteam with Whiplash composer Justin Hurwitz for La La Land. These are two men who know music and, more importantly, how to make music that molds the characters performing it, so it should be thrilling to watch them take on a musical.
The Wrap recently secured Chazelle’s Director’s Statement for the film, part of the “lookbook” he compiled while putting the project together at Lionsgate. It gives us a much better idea of just how high Chazelle is aiming for La La Land, and you can check it out below:
“I’d like to make a contemporary musical about L.A., starting with the L.A. we know but slowly building to a vision of the city as romantic metropolis–one that is actually worthy of the dreams it inspires. I’d like to make a musical about the way L.A.’s peculiar rhythms can push its residents to the edge of their emotions–be they hope, desperation or love. Think the kind of teetering-toward-madness you see in “The Graduate” or “Boogie Nights”, and imagine if you were to push that further. In this case, the city pushes its residents all the way: it pushes them into song.
The characters of this movie are just people trying to make it. One thing most movies about struggling L.A. actors and musicians miss is the poetry of their struggle: these are blue-collar folks working day in and day out to make something happen. What I’m interested in is pitting their yearnings and their ambitions against the musical genre. After all, musicals are all about the push-and-pull between reality and fantasy; the heroes of this film, because of their big dreams, are constantly poised on that edge.
At its core, this is a movie about artists in love–and what it means to be an artist in love in arguably the most competitive city on the planet. How do you juggle the need to find success as an artist with the need to share oneself with another human being? And how do you do so in a place where every poster, every street corner and every sign remind you of the glories just beyond reach? L.A. is the “Dream Factory”, and to me there’s something swooningly romantic about that: all those unsung songs and unrealized ideas clouding the air. By casting an affectionate eye on a pair of young hopefuls, while aspiring to the kind of full-fledged romanticism you hardly ever see in today’s movies, I hope to capture the spirit of the city I now call home, and make a movie that feels both classical and urgent–and, yes, intrinsically L.A.”
It’s rare that we get to see Director’s Statements like this, but the fact that Chazelle’s has emerged, and that it’s just so plainly riveting, just adds to our excitement for La La Land. Teller and Watson are two remarkably talented, highly in-demand stars, so if they do end up signing on for this project, cinephiles from all walks of life should be in for a real treat.
It will be a while until La La Land hits theaters, though, so musically inclined filmgoers can instead look forward to Chazelle and Teller’s Whiplash, which Sony Picture Classics is releasing wide on October 10th.
Source: The Wrap