Jennifer Lopez is eyeing her next role: that of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. That’s very interesting: It seems that another Latina diva, namely Mexican-born Salma Hayek, had first dibs on bringing the life of Kahlo to the screen.
Just as African-American stars fought to play pioneering screen icon Dorothy Dandridge — a war won by Halle Berry, who also netted two Golden Globes and may get an Emmy for her HBO biopic of Dandridge — Kahlo’s life story is a plum one for any actress. The painter favored self-portraits and was nearly killed in a bus accident; she married painter Diego Rivera, knew Leon Trotsky, and carried on affairs with men and women.
In the Lopez corner: United Artists, director Luis Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit), and executive producer Francis Ford Coppola.
In Hayek’s corner: Miramax and a script by Rodrigo Garcia (Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her). No director has confirmed, but Andrucha Waddington (a first assistant director on Central Station) is rumored to be in talks with the studio.
Lopez has not yet put ink to paper, but the United Artists picture is slated for an early 2001 start date. Hayek’s project, which is based on the book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, has been in development since 1997.
Valdez, according to Variety, is basing his version on the book The Two Fridas. He’s been trying to get his project off the ground since 1991, but a deal at New Line fell through after protests over the casting of non-Latina Laura San Giacomo (of NBC’s Just Shoot Me). Madonna was also once interested in the project, but that casting also met with severe criticism.
Since there’s already no love lost between Lopez and Hayek, we could see more ugly muckraking on this biopic campaign than in this year’s presidential campaign.
Lopez’s new film, the wildly visual serial killer drama The Cell, opens this weekend. Hayek’s next, Chain of Fools, opens in September.