"Chicago" Star Zellweger Cast as Janis Joplin in New Biopic

News   "Chicago" Star Zellweger Cast as Janis Joplin in New Biopic Renee Zellweger, who received an Academy Award nomination for her work as Roxie Hart in Miramax's "Chicago," will star as Janis Joplin in an upcoming film from Paramount Pictures and Lakeshore.

Variety reports that the actress, soon to lense the sequel to "Bridget Jones's Diary," will portray the late rock singer in the film bio "Piece of My Heart," which should begin filming in early 2004. Zellweger will also co produce the film with Lakeshore execs Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. Rosenberg told Variety, "Renee has been obsessed with Janis for years and is totally committed to this. We are looking to quickly bring aboard a writer director so that this can be the picture she makes after the sequel to 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'" Lucchesi added, "Aside from Renee's talent, it's a plus that she's from Texas like Janis was because she can appreciate the courage it took to leave there and go to San Francisco and make a career rather than stay behind and conform to the life her parents were hoping for." The dramatic life (and death) of Janis Joplin was also fodder for the hit Off Broadway musical Love, Janis, which was conceived, adapted and directed by Randal Myler. The long-running musical featured dual Joplins — a "talking Janis," who narrated the rock singer's story, and a "singing Janis," who belted out Joplin's blues-inflected songlist. Joplin rose to prominence in 1967 as the gritty, bluesy vocalist of the band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, wailing the lyrics of the hit "Piece of My Heart." She went on to solo success and scored a number-one single with "Me and Bobby McGee" — although the song didn't hit until after Joplin had succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1970.

Zellweger's many film credits include "A Taste for Killing," "Jerry Maguire," "One True Thing," "The Bachelor," "Nurse Betty," "Me, Myself & Irene," "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Chicago" and the recent "Down with Love." She will be seen this winter in "Cold Mountain," which opens Christmas Day.