Sony has announced that the biopic adaptation of Beautiful the musical is going to star Daisy Edgar-Jones and will be directed by Jewish filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko of the The Kids Are Alright.
Cholodenko recently completed the first pass of the script with co-writer Stuart Blumberg. Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman of Playtone will be among the film’s producers, along with Paul Blake, who produced the Broadway show.
King told Variety that she’s excited about Daisy’s casting — “[She has] a spirit and energy that I recognised as myself when I was younger. She’s a tremendous talent and I know she’s going to give a great performance.”
Edgar-Jones is an excellent actress who shined in Normal People, Where the Crawdads Sing, Fresh and Under the Banner of Heaven, for which she was recently nominated for a Golden Globe. But as many have noted on Twitter, Edgar-Jones, unlike King, is not Jewish.
This is the latest in a trend when it comes to biopics about famous Jewish people. There’s Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex. Helen Mirren in the upcoming Golda, Bradley Cooper who is about to star as Leonard Bernstein in The Maestro.
So the decision to cast Edgar-Jones has left many disappointed. Many looked up to King throughout her career for how she embraced her Jewish “looks,” if you will: her curly hair, her nose, her earthy, nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn vibe, which at the time was far from the mainstream beauty ideal.
Through her music, King also acknowledged her Jewish heritage, contributing to the 1994 album Life’s a Lesson, which collected Jewish folk songs, and in her 2011 holiday album A Holiday Carole, she recorded A Chanukah Prayer along with her Jewish daughter Louise Goffin and her grandson, Hayden Well.
We also all got a glimpse of her beautiful silver menorah when she gave performances from home to cheer up those sick or quarantining.
So while King will not be played by a Jewish actor in the upcoming film, we can comfort ourselves with the Jewish joy she gives us and the fact that her incredible, history-making music will finally make it onto the big screen.