OK, forgive me the headline because truth be told, if the rumours are correct and Bradley Cooper does end up playing Barry Gibb in the upcoming movie about the Bee Gees, I’ll be more than happy. He’s got the acting chops, looks and musical sensibilities, not to mention the necessary Gibb-like hirsuteness and Gibb-like tan-ability. And beyond that, he’s got that rare kind of star-power that could help make this biopic as big as it so deserves to be.
But just in case that all falls through, I’ve found the perfect Barry. The actor in question is 27-year old Blake Jenner. Best known for his role as Ryder Lynn on the TV show Glee, I was introduced to Jenner through the sleeper 2016 hit film Everybody Wants Some. Set in 1980, Jenner played college baseball player Jake Bradford. With the retro clothes and hair, he looked a dead-ringer for a young Barry Gibb (as you can see in the above photos).
Am I right or am I right!? Blake Jenner in Everybody Wants Some looks uncannily like Barry Gibb circa 1967-1969. Give him a beard and blow dry the hair a fraction more and you’ve got Barry circa 1975-1979 too. Given we know Jenner can sing thanks to his time on Glee, the other factor in his favour is that he hails from the place Barry has made his home since the mid 70s, Miami, Florida. That’s sorted then!
Beyond who plays Barry, and not forgetting who’d play Robin, Maurice and Andy, the film is to be produced by Graham King – the same producer who took a fictionalised account of fellow Brit mega-group Queen’s career to the big screen in Bohemian Rhapsody and to the tune of more US $1-billion in box office receipts. The hopes are high he can do the Gibb brothers a similar commercial justice.
As well as King, Anthony McCarten, the screenwriter on Bohemian Rhapsody, is also said to be attached to the project, as is Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment.
So in a nutshell, all evidence points towards an awful lot of people who know how to make an awful lot of money being involved. This isn’t a bad thing at all. Here’s the question I’m battling with though: how would I feel if a big screen-telling of the Gibb brothers’ story played as fast and loose with the facts as Bohemian Rhapsody?
For the blissfully unaware, the Bohemian Rhapsody narrative was built upon two almighty but mightily convenient untruths: that Freddie Mercury knew he was dying prior to the band’s legend-making performance at Live Aid in 1985, and that the band was essentially broken up before reuniting against the odds to deliver that Live Aid mini-gig for ages.
The truth is much more boring: there’s no evidence whatsoever that Freddie was ill at the time of Live Aid, with most suggestions putting his decline in health between 18-months to two years later. The fact the emotional crux of the Queen biopic hinges on the fact Freddie knew he was dying prior to him giving arguably the greatest live performance in history has bothered me no end. It’s not an inconsequential part of Bohemian Rhapsody’s narrative. Rather, it’s one of its two most important pillars.
The other pillar is that the band were reuniting after years of estrangement to magically wow the world that day in 1985. How pesky that in real life they’d just six weeks earlier come off the massively successful tour for their smash hit album The Works – a tour that included one of the most attended gigs in history, the colossal Rock In Rio concert.
Struggling to remember just how big Queen were at the time of The Works? Perhaps a reminder that the album included no less than four international hits – I Want To Break Free, Radio Ga-Ga, It’s A Hard Life and Hammer To Fall – will help. But as the cliche goes, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? And a good story it was and I’m not for a second saying Rami Malek wasn’t worthy of every accolade that came his way for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. But was it the truth? Does it matter if it wasn’t?
I mention all of this because it’s not lost on me that a small rearranging of facts could be beneficial in the upcoming Bee Gees biopic, as much as that pains me to say.
The arc of the story of the Gibbs goes something like this:
Born in England, troublemakers as kids, family moves to Australia, band is formed and they become child stars but struggle to have hits, family move back to England where they become bonafide international superstars, band breaks up acrimoniously, band reunites and becomes temporarily very big again, band struggles to stay relevant, band relocates to Florida and reinvents themselves with a new sound, band becomes the biggest on the planet, younger brother becomes almost as famous, band suffers huge backlash, band continues as crack songwriters and producers to music’s elite, band reunite and launch huge comeback, younger brother tragically dies, band carry on having hits around the world while regaining respect and winning a truckload of awards, band ends with the untimely deaths of key members.
That’s the very basic plot, but if you were concerned more with making a more purely entertaining film that still honours the Gibbs but isn’t beholden to a precise timeline, you might re-jig things a little. It makes sense to amalgamate characters, to omit others, to skim or miss certain events and to overtly dramatise others in order to better tell the story you’re aiming for.
That said, clearly I’m not in favour of blatantly making stuff up in biopics and believe me, this gives me a mild hernia even just writing it down, but bear with me. In the case of the brothers Gibb and for the sake of the movie, what if the final act saw Andy’s devastating death occurring in 1987 instead of 1988? That way you could make the Bee Gees’ triumphant 1987 comeback single You Win Again happen in 1988 as a kind of tribute to Andy as well as a reaffirmation of the very notion that I’d argue is so much at the heart of the Gibb brothers story: that they never, ever gave up.
I hate that I’m even suggesting this, but in a way I’m just mentally preparing myself for the film. This slight rejigging of the actual timeline could smooth out the injustice of the stomping pop masterpiece You Win Again somehow only peaking at US #75 despite being so big a UK #1 that it kept George Michael’s Faith off the top spot. Not only that, it’s absurd failure in the States ignored the fact it was nothing less than the biggest hit in Europe for all of 1987, so yes, let’s rewrite that history!
Or not. The life story of Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy Gibb is one of the more remarkable in showbiz and their staggering successes don’t need any finessing to make a better yarn. Not every twist and turn in their collective tale needs to make it to the big screen, but that overriding theme that I mentioned – that of never, ever giving up; of being brothers and loving each other; of being the masters of melody as well as the comeback; that is a non-negotiable.
35 Comments Add yours
Not Bradley Cooper, he’s not handsome enough!! This kid surely is!! YUM!!
Taking your point about how films handle ‘real-life’ episodes, isn’t it the same with any film, say Lincoln, Elizabeth R, Titanic. The nature of the beast is that these things have to be abridged and adjusted to fit neatly into the premise of entertain for two hours in a family friendly censorship acceptable fashion? The danger is in years to come these films are cited as evidence of fact.
I agree with diane. Barry Gibb was so gorgeous at the height of his popularity between the late 60s and late ’80s. I met Barry in person and he is as gorgeous in person as you would imagine, and what made him more gorgeous as he was so wonderful and down to earth. And of course extremely talented. My vote is on this guy. He does look like a young Barry Gibb, and if they blow out his hair and grow a bed he would look like a little bit older Barry Gibb. Bradley Cooper I never thought was handsome, but he is talented. But make no mistake, he looks nothing like Barry Gibb in his heyday
OMG! Tim, You nailed it. My hope, like yours, is that they do the Bee Gees justice. This movie should be 3 hours long with all of the lifetime experiences that they lived. Personally, I never thought that the public appreciated their amazing writing, recordings and wonderful performances. Maybe the movie can portray their great talent! Thank you, Tim, for such a tribute to them!
What great performers they were!!! Wish I had a chance to enjoy a live show!!
He definitely looks the part, but I don’t think he has the acting chops unfortunately. He’s more made-for-tv movie actor as opposed to top drawer Hollywood film. Based on the production team they’ve got lined up, I’m quietly confident this will be a quality film which will do the brothers justice.
I love the bee gees. I got to see them in 1979 when they were at the peak of their career. Right after Saturday night fever. And I actually got to meet Barry backstage at the kiss 108 concert in Massachusetts 10 years later. He says sweet and nice as he is absolutely gorgeous. And yes that kid would be great as a young Berry and then they put the beard and fluff up the hair to make him a little older during the Saturday night fever years. Bradley Cooper doesn’t even look anything like Barry Gibb even if they fix them up. I wonder who they would get for Robin and maurice. I heard his son wanted Rami Malek. Actually he could be fixed up to look like Robin and he has a great actor as evidenced playing Freddie Mercury. We’ll just have to wait and see
In some pictures he looks like a young Maurice to me.
I was thinking the same thing – if not Barry, he could definitely pass as Maurice.
I agree. My first thought was Maurice.
I totally agree. This guy should play Barry in a movie. In fact, I truly DETEST Bradley Cooper….in MY OPINION, he’s not handsome, not talented, which Barry Gibb is extremely BOTH.
If this movie comes to fruition, I’m all for it, cos I grew up LOVING the Bee Gees, from the first time I heard Spicks and Specks playing on the radio…yep, that long ago…and if the right actors aren’t in the movie, I have no interest in it.
I agree with your choice for Barry. I don’t agree with changing the timeline. Have you thought of someone for Mo? Someone on Facebook has proposed Sam Caflin for Mo.
Looked him up to remind myself what he looked like, very handsome, just like Mo was, and this recent pic of him totally sells it, He should play Mo!! https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2018/06/08/hunger-gamess-sam-claflin-money-working-dad-awkwardness-sex/
Doigo Morgado should play Barry!!!!
mayb blake jenner play andy gibb
You’re right. He would be better than Bradley Cooper. Bradley doesn’t look at good as Barry and he is too old for the part — as handsome as he is and I would never buy it. But Garrett Hedlund would make a great Barry Gibb. Maybe they could fix up Bradley to play one Maurice and I love Rami Malek for Robin. But that wouldn’t work because Bradley would be too tall. So Bradley would need to be out. And Maurice should be played by zac efron.
I left out Andy. Maybe Blake Jenner could work as Andy Gibb, he certainly looks like him.
Remarkable ideas and I completely agree about your suggestions. Bradley Cooper can never be Barry!
Does anyone else find the whole casting prospect terrifying? So many people that need to be gotten just right for it all to gel? If they don’t get it right the fans will be devastated.
You are so right! The parts have to be meticulously chosen! If not, there just may be worldwide devastation!
when will it air and on what channel
Oh god please, no Bradley Cooper. The above picture horrifies me. I never watched Glee, but looking at this Jenner’s picture, I thought it was Barry, just something was a little off. Like maybe the beard was missing. However I grew up with the Bee Gees, I have heard their story many, many times. I don’t think any biopic could do them justice.
Thank you for your report. Let’s pray that they get the best actors and that the film does them justice. They are the best and will always be!!!
He could pass for Maurice or Andy.
For Barry, we need someone who can ‘capture’ the camera. Looks (especially the eyes) + speaking + singing = home run!
For Robin, perhaps an up -and coming actor. Major auditions will be needed for Robin
I think the hardest part will be finding an actor for Robin. Because Robin was very unique.
Blake Jenner and Bradley Cooper are both good-looking dudes that could play Barry Gibb. I’m concerned about who will play the rest of the brothers and what the movie duration will be. Personally, I think the Brothers’ Gibb deserves a film that is 4 or more hours long like The Temptations film/miniseries. I want them to have a meaningful movie covering everything they went through and all the amazing musical history they created. I think it would be great to have the standard 2-hour biopic for the theaters and another much longer film or miniseries for at-home viewing.
It would be hard to watch a movie about the BeeGee’s, who are my favorites, if ‘Barry’ doesn’t favor Barry closely! You definitely found someone who has his look for sure! If Blake is talented enough to act the part, that would be amazing!!! I hope the story will be very close to reality. Real life is filled with ups and downs…it’s the journey!
No no and no Bradley Cooper. He’s not cute or handsome enough to play the role of Barry Gibb. Please no.
I saw the picture of Blake Jenner and immediately thought of Maurice (my personal favorite). The makeup people would just have to work on his eyebrows a bit. At another’s suggestion, I looked up Garrett Hedlund, and he also could play Maurice. He already has the eyebrows but would need brown contact lenses.
I’m not sure Bradley Cooper would do Barry justice. There has to be someone else out there.
Actually I think that young man could play Maurice.
I agree, he would be perfect in this role.
BUT he’s clearly emotionally unstable since he’s been beating his wife and even damaged her eyesight
he can sing, he can act (well enough) and he is not over exposed like Cooper has been. He also has the muscularity and dance moves. I vote yes.
Unless the focus is on the band from the late ‘80 s on—which seems unlikely—Bradley Cooper is too old. My biggest concern is Barry being the executive producer and his brother’s both dead and unable to contribute. Barry is not an objective source and he is particularly unreliable about any and all things Robin. You see an interview of more than 5 minutes length and he can’t keep himself from random sniping at Robin about stupid shit. He also generally minimizes Maurice’s contributions so he has more time to bitch about Robin.
I meant to say in my last post, grow a beard, not a bed LOL
Barry had a wonderful voice (I say “had” because one’s voice rarely ages well), but I think he overdid the falsetto. It was really appropriate for some songs, but his regular voice was great (e.g., “To Love Somebody”).
Barry might be jealous of Robin’s voice because his vibrato was not only beautiful but entirely unique. No one before him ever sounded like him, and no one after will ever sound like him.
Barry also might be jealous of Maurice’s instrumental abilities. His first wife Lulu said Maurice had the remarkable ability to pick up any instrument and learn to play it in very little time. Barry only played rhythm guitar and admitted he couldn’t even play piano. Both Robin and Maurice could. Barry’s real strength was songwriting.