Casting for "Nine" Movie Is Being Done in an "Unusual Way" — Around the World

By Kenneth Jones
August 21, 2007

Marion Cotillard, the celebrated actress who played Edith Piaf in the film "La Vie en Rose," and Oscar nominee Javier Bardem are being wooed to play Guido and his wife Louisa in the movie "Nine," based on the Tony Award-winning musical.

Variety reported that director Rob Marshall and producer Harvey Weinstein and his The Weinstein Co. also have Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren and Marshall's "Chicago" murderess Catherine Zeta-Jones on their wish list.

For the musical inspired by Federico Fellini's "8-1/2" Bardem ("Before Night Falls") would play the harried Italian film director, Guido Contini; Loren his mother; Cruz his mistress Carla; and Zeta-Jones his actress muse, Claudia. In the tale, Guido is turning 40, he's in career distress and he's drowning in the sea of women in his life.

Marshall will direct, produce and choreograph. His partner in Lucamar Productions is John DeLuca. Michael Tolkin will pen the screenplay.

On Aug. 19, Marshall ("Chicago," "Memoirs of a Geisha") talked to Playbill.com columnist Harry Haun about the progress he's making on "Nine," the motion picture.

"It's a gorgeous score, and we're reworking it for film so it's really a new book," Marshall explained. "I've been working on it since the beginning of the year. We'll probably be shooting next March and, hopefully, come out with it in December '08."

Of the casting game, Marshall explained, "We've seen probably every feature-film actress in Hollywood for the women. We're casting in New York, in Los Angeles, in London, in Paris and in Rome, so it's been a huge undertaking and we're still doing it. Sometimes, there are real surprises. It's just like casting 'Chicago' because we don't know what film actors can sing. Sometimes there will be a surprise, and sometimes they'll be a disappointment for someone you really love as an actor and they just can't sing it."

The 1982 Tony Award-winning musical's composer-lyricist Maury Yeston and librettist Arthur Kopit will reportedly serve as executive producers. The Broadway property's adaptation from the Italian is by Mario Fratti.

It's easy to speculate that Yeston may write new songs for the musical as a way to flesh out aspects of the story and to earn the pic potential Oscar noms in the song category.

Nine won 1982 Tony Awards in the categories of Best Musical, Best Score, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Liliane Montevecchi as Guido's agent), Best Direction (Tommy Tune) and Best Costume Design (William Ivey Long). Raul Julia was nominated for his performance as Guido. The musical was revived on Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company in 2003, snagging the Best Musical Revival Tony. Antonio Banderas was Best Actor-nominated as Guido, and Jane Krakowksi won the Tony for playing sexy Carla. David Leveaux directed, asking all the participants to speak in Italian accents (it's set in Italy, after all).

Marshall directed the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 2002, "Chicago."