2021 has been a big year for Pete Davidson. From his new relationship with “Bridgerton” star Phoebe Dynevor to rumors that he might not return for the next season of “Saturday Night Live,” it seems like the comedian is making headlines left and right.
Maybe the most surprising of these latest headlines is that Davidson will be playing the role of punk legend Joey Ramone, lead singer of the Ramones, in an upcoming biopic about the late artist’s life.
On April 15, various news outlets announced that the biopic, “I Slept with Joey Ramone,” was in production. The date also marks the 20-year anniversary of Ramone’s death from lymphoma. Based on the memoir of the same name written by Ramone’s younger brother, Mickey Leigh, the film will be produced by STXFilms and Netflix. “I Slept with Joey Ramone” will surround the life and career of the legendary performer and, most importantly, the film earned the complete support of Ramone’s estate.
The role will provide a new type of challenge for Davidson, who usually plays characters who are very similar to himself. In fact, in a 2019 interview with his close friend Machine Gun Kelly, Davidson was asked if he considered himself a good actor. He responded in his typical self-deprecating tone, “No … I can only play myself.”
Many people seemed surprised that Davidson chose to take on a role that is not only incredibly demanding but will inevitably be under the harsh scrutiny of the Ramones’ fans. However, no one is as surprised about the casting as Davidson himself. He confessed in an interview with Billboard, “I’m still in shock that they’re letting me do this.”
Up until this point in his career, Davidson has been known for his sarcastic, comedic acting style. His main concern is that he won’t be able to commit to the part as much as he needs to. “I’m not like Kate [McKinnon] or Keenan [Thompson] or Chris [Redd] who can do characters and they can disappear,” Davidson continued in his Billboard interview while referencing his fellow SNL cast members.
Davidson also recognizes that his fans have grown used to seeing his personality come through in his acting, and he worries that people’s expectations of him will overshadow his performance. “Unfortunately, for me when I’m out there it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s Pete.’” With a history of playing the irreverent 20-something stoner, many people don’t know what to expect for Davidson in a role this complex.
As difficult as the part may be, however, Davidson assured fans that he made preparations to give the best performance he can. “I’m about to start music lessons and voice lessons … I’m definitely taking it very serious and I’m doing my research.”
And despite the challenges, Davidson is grateful that he’s been given this chance. Humble as always, he told Billboard while speaking in the third person, “It’s honestly a dream come true that they’re giving Pete a shot.”
Jason Orley, who directed Davidson in 2019’s “Big Time Adolescence,” will direct Davidson again in the biopic. Additionally, Orley worked with Davidson to co-write the screenplay. The film will mark Davidson and Orley’s third motion picture together; Orley also directed Davidson’s 2020 comedy special, “Pete Davidson: Alive from New York.”
STXFilms chairman Adam Fogelman has high hopes for Davidson and Orley’s partnership and for Davidson’s performance as Ramone. Fogelman expressed his excitement in a statement for Rolling Stone:
“’I Slept with Joey Ramone’ is a great rock anthem that will make an equally great rock biopic, set apart by a universal story of family. Pete is perfect for this role and we’re excited he and Jason will be bringing this icon of rock to life and thrilled to be collaborating once again with our friends at Netflix.”
For as much hope as Davidson’s colleagues have in him, fans seem split down the middle on whether casting him to play the punk rocker will be fantastic or disastrous.
Some expressed excitement about seeing Davidson in a more serious role, such as one Twitter user who wrote: “living only for Pete Davidson playing Joey Ramone in an upcoming biopic of his life.”
Plus, many longtime fans of Joey Ramone are excited to see a young actor like Davidson bring the singer’s life and music to the attention of a new generation. One Ramones fan showed support on Twitter: “Love the actor, love the subject, can’t wait for this.”
However, many of Ramone’s fans lack faith that Davidson can do justice to the rocker’s story. Some took to the internet to express their disappointment. One fan tweeted, “just found out pete davidson is playing joey ramone in a new biopic and i’d just like to know why.”
Some were even more intense, such as one Twitter user who wrote, “DUDE THEY REALLY GAVE A MAC MILLER INSPIRED [ROLE] TO [MGK] AND CHOSE PETE DAVIDSON AS THE ROLE OF JOEY RAMONE… WTF IS GOING DOWN IN HOLLYWOOD MAN.”
The main concern that fans have with Davidson playing Ramone is that the comedian doesn’t possess the depth needed to take on the role. However, the biopic seems to be a stepping stone on Davidson’s path to becoming a more serious actor. As his film career continues to grow, Davidson started committing more to his roles. In fact, he even revealed to Seth Meyers that he started removing some of his famous tattoos because it’s too inconvenient to cover them when shooting movies.
Despite the mixed reactions to his casting, Davidson remains cautiously optimistic that he will be able to give a great performance. “Hopefully I do it justice, and I hope I don’t let anybody down.”
There is currently no release date set for the biopic, but fans of Ramone and Davidson alike are on the edge of their seats.