Rolling Stones' 'Exile' as feature film? Casting Mick and Keith
Last weekend it was reported that a film production company helmed by Richard Branson, the brains behind the Virgin empire, had acquired the rights to "Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones," author Robert Greenfield's 2008 book on the Rolling Stones circa 1971, when they were exiled in France and making their now-classic double album, "Exile on Main St."
Keith Richards' yarns about that time in France are some of the highlights of his 2011 autobiography, "Life," in which he wrote of being strung out on heroin, running with Gram Parsons, dating Anita Pallenberg and, basically, creating the living definition of the rock star life while working out "Exile."
The story has all the ingredients you'd want out of a rock biopic: sex, drugs, running from the law, a French mansion called Villa Nellcôte, and a band, the Rolling Stones, at the peak of its powers (and ragtag beauty).
Wrote Richards of that time: "We had a record to cut and knew that if we failed, then the English [tax authorities] would have won. And this house, the Bedouin encampment, contained anywhere from twenty to thirty people at a time, which never bothered me, because I have the gift of not being bothered or because I was focusing, with assistance, on the music."
But there's one major concern with such a film: Casting Mick and Keith, two rock figureheads whose portrayals will be key to whether the project is as cool as the band was at that time, or a laugh-out-loud cheesefest. Pick the wrong Mick, and you've got problems; cast a parody Keef, and the whole thing fails.
With this in mind, we have a few early casting suggestions, including a number of wild-card ideas -- Rooney Mara as Richards and Angelina Jolie as Jagger? -- that could, if "A Season in Hell" is ever produced, make it a winner.
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Villa Nellcôte in the early 1970s. Credit: Dominique Tarlé / Universal Music Group