At the age of 30, filmmaker Damien Chazelle has become a hot commodity in Hollywood thanks to the success of his Oscar-winning Sundance Film Festival sensation Whiplash. As a result, two big stars are being courted for his follow-up project, a contemporary, Los Angeles-set musical from Lionsgate called La La Land. Originally intended as a vehicle for Whiplash star Miles Teller and Harry Potter alum Emma Watson, La La Land is now moving forward as a possible project for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. If this comes together, it would mark their third film together, following Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad.
La La Land is being described as an old-fashioned musical set in modern-day Los Angeles revolving around a love story between a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress. It grows on a musical theme that’s permeated through the young filmmaker’s entire career—his 2009 debut Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench was a romantic musical and, of course, Whiplash centered around an aspiring drum student at a Juilliard-like musical conservatory. Almost like something out of an old-school MGM musical, Whiplash became the sensation of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, winning the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. It also won three Academy Awards and earned Chazelle an Oscar nomination for his screenplay.
The shift in casting comes as a bit of surprise. Teller recently exited the project and Watson dropped out after accepting the lead in Bill Condon’s live-action remake of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast, yet it opens the door for the possibility of a Gosling and Stone reunion. Gosling, an Academy Award nominee for the 2006 indie Half Nelson who began his career with a stint on The Mickey Mouse Club, took a small break from acting to write and direct the surrealist indie Lost River, but appears to be back on the other side of the camera with a bevy of upcoming projects. The actor will be seen in Terrence Malick’s upcoming Weightless, Shane Black’s crime drama The Nice Guys, and Adam McKay’s The Big Short. He also may star in Guillermo del Toro’s The Haunted Mansion.
Stone, an Oscar nominee for her work in Birdman, recently made her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, which is perhaps a nice bit of prep work if she indeed joins Chazelle’s musical. The actress has two films slated to come out this summer—the Cameron Crowe drama Aloha and Woody Allen’s latest movie, Irrational Man, starring Joaquin Phoenix.
La La Land is scheduled to begin production this fall in Los Angeles.