Todd Haynes has spent a large portion of the past decade trying to make “Fever,” his planned Peggy Lee biopic that never materialized. Haynes originally boarded the project in 2014, when Reese Witherspoon was attached to play the legendary crooner. She was eventually replaced by Haynes’ “I’m Not There” and “Wonderstruck” collaborator Michelle Williams, who developed the film alongside Haynes until its financing fell through.
“It’s gone the way of the buffalo, I’m afraid,” Williams said when asked about the film in a 2022 interview. “But if anyone reading this story would like to resurrect it, Todd and I are on board for that.”
Todd Haynes went on to direct “May December” instead, and recently made his way to the New York Film Festival to attend the film’s U.S. premiere. Speaking to IndieWire on the red carpet, Haynes recalled the painful experience of scrapping “Fever” and echoed Williams’ sentiments about potentially revisiting it.
“When it couldn’t happen — when we thought it could happen and it was close to pre-production — it was tough,” Haynes said. “It’s still a tender spot for all of us. We really put so much time and thought into it. And then I just had all of these other projects lined up that I was very excited to divert my energies into. But look, the interest in the subject hasn’t gone away. The amazement with the subject and her art hasn’t gone away. And the desire to work with Michelle again hasn’t gone away.”
Whether or not Haynes gets the chance to make “Fever,” he has a full slate of upcoming projects to keep himself busy. He’s currently preparing to direct Joaquin Phoenix in an untitled queer period romance set in 1930s Los Angeles. Haynes told IndieWire that the film, which is expected to receive an NC-17 rating, could shoot in Mexico after the SAG-AFTRA strike ends.
“We hope to be mounting a production in Mexico,” Haynes said. “The two men run away to Mexico. It’s set in 1937-38 Los Angeles, but they flee to Mexico. And I think there’s a lot of intelligence that is leading us there, which would be an amazing experience.”