Jake Gyllenhaal has been cast to play the famed musical composer, Leonard Bernstein in an upcoming biopic of his life titled, The American.
The film will be adapted from the Humphrey Burton biography on Bernstein with a script by Michael Mitnick. True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga will take the helm on the project.
Structured in five movements, like a symphony, The American follows Bernstein from conducting the New York Philharmonic at the age of 25 and through a meteoric rise to fame, all while struggling both personally and publicly to be everything that everyone expected him to be, most of all himself.
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“Like many people, Leonard Bernstein found his way into my life and heart through West Side Story when I was a kid,” Gyllenhaal stated. “But as I got older and started to learn about the scope of his work, I began to understand the extent of his unparalleled contribution and the debt of gratitude modern American culture owes him. As a man, Bernstein was a fascinating figure—full of genius and contradiction—and it will be an incredible honour to tell his story with a talent and friend like Cary.”
Bernstein composed music for major productions including West Side Story, Peter Pan and On the Waterfront. He was also known for his outspoken political views and his strong desire to further social change. Although happily married with three children, Bernstein was also Gay, which some state his wife knew about.
The project is an original idea, developed by Nine Stories, Gyllenhaal’s and Riva Marker’s New York-based production company. Gyllenhaal and Marker will produce alongside Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert, Fukunaga’s Parliament of Owls and Martha Parker. Jason Cloth of Creative Wealth Media, Michael Mitnick and Adam Gopnik are executive producers.