Richard Linklater loves to film a movie in real-time. He did it with his film Boyhood, filmed over the span of 12 years to keep star Ellar Coltrane as the main character throughout the movie. And now he’s doing it with an adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along. Originally, Blake Jenner was cast in the lead role of Franklin Shepard, but rumors circulated that Jenner left the film after domestic violence allegations circulated from his ex-wife and Supergirl star Melissa Benoit.
But now, in an Above the Line reports that Jenner is confirmed to be gone from the project and Paul Mescal is reportedly in talks to take over. While Jenner has filmed some scenes in what is to be a 20 year project, the replacement would be in the earlier stages of Linklater‘s film, so it wouldn’t be too hard to replace him now. And given Jenner’s controversies, it is best to change up the casting now before too much of filming has gone underway.
Merrily We Roll Along spans twenty years and Linklater, much like with his film Boyhood, is filming the movie in the same timeline that the musical goes through. And if it is like Boyhood in its shooting schedule, that will mean small shoots throughout the years, but still a total of 20 years in filming it, and Mescal taking over as Franklin is an interesting and exciting choice for the role.
If this works out, Mescal will join Beanie Feldstein as Mary Flynn and Ben Platt as Charley. Mescal‘s character Franklin is a former theatre composer who leaves New York, his career, and his friends to move to Los Angeles and become a film producer, and the show tracks the moments in his life that made Franklin into the man he is because of it. Having someone like Mescal at the heart of the story, who has shown himself as a leading man time and time again, is a perfect choice to take on Franklin.
Currently, there is an off-Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along that is transferring to Broadway in the fall. The off-Broadway production starred Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez, and we don’t know who is transferring to Broadway, but it does mean that the staged show is a nice filler for us until we potentially get Linklater‘s Merrily We Roll Along in 20 years — and I hope that it is with Mescal as the lead.