We all saw what happened when two Truman Capote biopics collided within a mere year of each other. Capote hit the finish line first, the audiences and academy cheered, and Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar. When Infamous trotted in later, the recognition (for those that watched) was far less audible. The shadow of Capote took up most of the spotlight, and audiences and critics couldn't help but compare it to its predecessor.
What happens then when not two but three confirmed (plus two rumored) same-subject biopics are on the 2009-2010 movie roster? This season's on-screen ode is to none other than surrealist painter Salvador Dali, the eccentric artiste equally known for his technical genius and social showmanship. (He once lectured in a scuba suit.) Perhaps you studied his works in college, or had one of his melting-clock, desert-dreamscape posters on your dorm room wall.
It's a juicy role rife with complexity and controversy. Not to mention the creative challenge of cultivating and owning the signature Dali stach -- whether homegrown or glued-on. So far the actors ready to run with the role are no small stars. Here's a sum-up of Dali films in the works and their competing leads and plot perspectives.
Twilight's vamp amour trades in his fangs for a surreal stache in Dali Goes to University, a.k.a. Paul Morrison's chronicle of the young life and loves of the legend, and his ultra-modern companions, filmmaker Luis Bunuel and Federico Garcia Lorca.
Dali & I: The Surreal Story - Al Pacino
Truman Show writer Andrew Niccol directs a different take that details Dali's later years, spanning the 1960s through 1980s. The painter's story will be told as seen through the eyes of his young protégé, art dealer Stan Lauryssens.
Dali - Antonio Banderas
Supposedly the Spanish star is in talks to play Dali with Tomb Raider director Simon West. The script follows the flashy icon from his ascent to fame during WWII to his later descent into scandal and misfortune. It also offers a close-up of his lifelong love for his wife and muse Gala.
Now for the rumors...
Net gossip has been buzzing for some time about Depp searching for a Dali script to call his own. Although, currently the only traceable "source" of the news is ... the New Zealand Herald. If Depp were up to something, New Zealanders would certainly be the first to know. Hmmm ... seems more like a web dream then an internet truth. (One that I wish would come true.)
Similarly, word has circulated of Peter O' Toole starring in Goodbye Dali, the comedy? Produced by David Permut and based on a Yaniv Raz and Allen Rich screenplay, it reportedly revisits Rich's real-life friendship with Dali as a young art dealer in Spain.
But why now? Why Dali? Do filmmakers work in a vacuum? Didn't they know other Dalis were in the works? What happens come Oscar time when multiple Dalis duke it out? In the end, can there be ... only one. Which Dali, or Dali movie will dazzle us the most? Or will they all be duds? And how many Dali takes can audiences digest in the same or even consecutive box-office seasons before they decide they're done?
We'll just have to see which Dali is still screening when the speculative smoke clears.