Bob Dylan Gave Script Notes on Timothee Chalamet’s Bob Dylan Movie

Timothée Chalamet’s Bob Dylan movie, “A Complete Unknown,” is supposed to kick off filming in August, but don’t call it a Bob Dylan biopic. During a recent appearance on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast (via IndieWire), the film’s director, James Mangold, said “A Complete Unknown” is “not really a Bob Dylan biopic” but a movie about “a very specific moment” in the 1960s folk scene of New York City. The film’s specificity is one reason the real Bob Dylan “has been so supportive of us making it,” the filmmaker reasoned.

“The best true-life movies are never cradle to grave but they’re about a very specific moment,” Mangold said. “In this case, it might be presumptuous to call it Altman-esque, but it’s a kind of ensemble piece about this moment in time, the early ’60s in New York, and this 17-year-old kid with $16 in his pockets hitchhikes his way to New York to meet Woody Guthrie who is in the hospital and is dying of a nerve disease. He sings Woody a song that he wrote for him and befriends Pete Seeger, who is like a son to Woody, and Pete sets him up with gigs at local clubs and there you meet Joan Baez and all these other people who are part of this world.”

Mangold described the Bob Dylan in his movie as “a wanderer who comes in from Minnesota with a fresh name and a fresh outlook on life.” His arrival ignites an “upheaval in the folk community and what they thought was proper folk and illicit folk.”

“It all has tremendous relevance even now because of the way we are all so tribalized with rules about what our music should be, about what our rules are, how we speak, how we express ourselves,” Mangold added. “And Bob from the beginning has always been someone who is always pressing against those boundaries.”

According to Mangold, the real Bob Dylan’s support of the movie extended to him giving notes on the script and taking multiple meetings with Mangold.

“I’ve spent several, wonderfully charming, days in his company, just one-on-one, talking to him,” Mangold said. “I have a script that’s personally annotated by him and treasured by me. He loves movies. The first time I sat down with Bob, one of the first things he said to me was, ‘I love “Cop Land.”‘”

“Cop Land” was Mangold’s second directorial effort. “A Complete Unknown” will be the director’s 13th and a return to the indie space following his studio work on “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which is now playing in theaters. The Bob Dylan film already has the backing of Searchlight Pictures. The film co-stars Elle Fanning, Benedict Cumberbatch and Boyd Holbrook.

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