It’s secretive and rich, a little scary, but few can resist when Sunset Boulevard beckons. Billy Wilder’s classic 1950 noir film, about an aging actress’s torrid affair with a much younger struggling screenwriter, is getting the remake treatment. The film starred Gloria Swanson as fading silent film star Norma Desmond, and William Holden as Joe Gillis, the writer who gets caught in her thrall.
The new film version of Sunset Boulevard is set to be an adaptation of the stage musical, itself an adaptation of the 1950 film. Several earlier attempts were made at adapting Sunset Boulevard for the stage, with only mega-composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version coming to fruition. After tryouts at Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival, Sunset Boulevard opened on the West End in 1993, and on in Los Angeles and on Broadway in 1994. Lloyd Webber composed the music, with Don Black and Christopher Hampton penning the lyrics.
Glenn Close as Norma Desmond
Patti LuPone originated the part of Norma Desmond on the West End, but Glenn Close has become the performer most closely associated with the role. Close won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Desmond in 1995, and reprised the role during the musical’s West End and Broadway revivals in 2016-2017. Paramount Pictures is looking to cast Close as Desmond in the upcoming movie version of the musical. Close interrupted the show, once in 1994 and again in 2017, to call out audience members who were taking photos during the performance.
Ryan Murphy, who as the showrunner of Glee and Feud has relevant experience, has reportedly been approached to direct. A representative for Murphy has denied his involvement. No names have yet been put forth for the lead male role of Joe Gillis, who was played by Hugh Jackman in the 1996 Australian production of the show. As the line in “As If We Never Said Goodbye” goes, “not long until the cameras will start turning” - Paramount is aiming to start production in January 2018.