Paul Mescal is replacing Blake Jenner in the decade-spanning production of the movie musical of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Richard Linklater will be directing the project, which is being backed by Blumhouse, and will shoot over a 20-year span. (The director shot his Oscar-winning Boyhood over 12 years.)
The much-beloved musical, based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, follows Franklin Shepard, a talented composer of Broadway musicals who abandons his friends and career to become a producer of Hollywood movies. The story begins at the height of his Hollywood fame and moves backwards in time, showing important moments in Frank’s life.
Mescal will play the lead role of Broadway composer Franklin Shepard, which was previously meant to be played by Jenner. After being cast, Jenner was embroiled in allegations of domestic abuse.
In November 2019, actress Melissa Benoist posted a 14-minute Instagram video during which she spoke of being a survivor of domestic violence. At the time, Benoist did not name her abuser. In October 2020 Jenner, who was previously married to Benoist, took to social media where he apologized for an abusive relationship, writing that he took “full responsibility and accountability for the hurt that I inflicted during my relationship with my past partner — emotionally, mentally, and yes, physically.” (Jenner, who also lodged claims of abuse against his former partner, also did not name the partner he was referring to in his post.)
Mescal will join a previously announced cast that includes Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt. The project, announced four years ago, completed its first segment of filming in August 2019. Ginger Sledge will produce with Jason Blum for Blumhouse, along with Jonathan Marc Sherman and Linklater.
Mescal, who broke out in Hulu series Normal People, was recently cast in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel. He has earned acclaim this past year for his work in Cannes standout Aftersun.
Above the Line first reported this news.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.