Kevin Spacey's Sinatra Biopic Hopes Dashed by Singer's Daughter

Sinatra biopic stalls amid rights and casting controversies

by Zain ul Abedin
Kevin Spacey's Sinatra Biopic Hopes Dashed by Singer's Daughter
© Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Plans for a biopic on Frank Sinatra, potentially starring Kevin Spacey, have come to a halt following intervention from Sinatra's daughter, Tina. The project, spearheaded by acclaimed writer-director Paul Schrader, has been shrouded in controversy not only due to its creative direction but also due to Spacey's contentious casting.

Schrader, known for his work on classics like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, has expressed his frustrations openly. In an interview with Variety, he revealed that while Spacey, a noted Sinatra enthusiast who has performed iconic tracks like “Come Fly With Me” in jazz clubs, was in discussions for the role, he was never formally attached.

This clarification comes amidst the backdrop of Spacey’s tumultuous career, marred by allegations of s-xual misconduct, which he has consistently denied. According to Schrader, the biopic was intended to portray the twilight years of Sinatra’s life, focusing on his struggles with health and various controversies.

However, Tina Sinatra, who controls the music rights essential for the film, reportedly disapproved of the project's vision. “We had a script which was great and we were ready to go, but Tina was not keen,” Schrader told the Daily Mail at the Cannes Film Festival.

Project Halted Over Rights

Tina's protective nature over her father’s legacy is evident, as she deemed the script not flattering enough to proceed. Schrader, while promoting his latest film,Oh, Canada, emphasized, “You can’t do it without [the music rights]”.

Spacey, who has been absent from major Hollywood productions since 2017 due to his legal troubles, was recently acquitted of nine s-xual offences in a London trial. His management has confirmed ongoing discussions with Schrader for future collaborations, highlighting Spacey’s eagerness to embody Sinatra, should the opportunity arise.

The project's cessation is a reflection of the ongoing debates surrounding artistic representation and the complexities of celebrity legacies. It also underscores the industry’s grappling with the implications of 'cancel culture' and the redemption arcs of its figures.

Schrader’s parting thoughts on Spacey: “I would not use Kevin if he had been convicted. But he was not convicted,” showcases the delicate balance filmmakers must navigate in today's cinematic landscape.

Kevin Spacey