Playing the main character in a biopic is a tall order for any actor, but taking on the role of influential musician Boy George in the forthcoming film “Karma Chameleon” seems even more of a challenge considering his multi-faceted life as a cultural icon, fashion trailblazer and the sound of the 1980s.
As of this week, the lead has yet to be cast for the film, which is still in pre-production with writer-director Sacha Gervasi (“Hitchcock”); Millennium Films is backing the project. Still, speculation has been running rampant since Boy George, who turns 60 this year, revealed that the movie was in the works on April 20, and announced the production is looking for “a brave young actor from anywhere in the globe” to play him.
Portraying the trailblazing Boy George will require a nuanced performance, one that balances the artist’s flamboyance with the man’s working class roots; his androgyny with his inherent charisma; his super-celebrity status and larger-than-life presence with his boy-next-door accessibility; and his universal appeal, which speaks as much to the LGBTQIA community as it does to a grandparent.
At the same time, the performance needs to capture Boy George’s wit, vulnerability, charm, confidence and unthreatening sexuality, among his many dimensions and gradations.
As Boy George said in a recent ITV interview about who should play him, “Someone who can see through the stereotypes of a person like me. I’m gay but that’s not the only thing about me. Don’t try and play me like a gay. I’m a lot of things.”
So who could take the lead? Boy George lookalikes Sam Smith and Sophie Turner often get mentioned in connection with the role. But in an interview on Smooth Radio, Boy George definitively denied that Smith would be playing him. In reference to Turner, he said on Australian radio show Fitzy & Wippa, “When I was 17, I would have loved to have been her,” to which Turner responded in a tweet (from a since discontinued account), “SO down,” expressing her enthusiasm to play him.
One of the actors purportedly in the mix to is the artist Yungblud, who shares an idol with Boy George in T. Rex, though a rep for Millenium Films denies the 23-year-old is being seriously considered.
Perhaps the movie will opt for the “I’m Not There” approach and have several actors playing different parts of his life? Here are five worth considering.
Lambert has been compared to Boy George from the moment he stepped onto the “American Idol” stage back in 2009. Now singing with Queen, he not only has the vocal chops to take on the role, but also the extensive theatrical stage experience. Plus, Lambert has had a personal friendship with Boy George for a number of years, allowing him one-on-one access to observe and absorb the cultural icon’s distinct mannerisms and characteristics — particularly the 21st century era of his career, seeing as Lambert is nearing 40, Boy George’s age in 2001.
The British Alexander is a modern-day LGBTQIA icon who effortlessly switches back and forth between acting and singing with his chart-topping pop group, Years & Years. Most recently, Alexander starred on HBO’s “It’s A Sin,” which takes place in the London club scene in the 1980s, and appeared alongside Elton John on the 2021 BRIT Awards, performing the Pet Shop Boys classic after which the show was named. These qualifications and more should invite serious consideration from casting agents.
Four-time Academy Award nominee Ronan shares her Irish heritage with Boy George, as well as his delicate physical features. Even if the talented Ronan bore no resemblance to Boy George, with her versatility she can deftly present an honest portrayal of the gamechanger. This is particularly true for Boy George’s younger years as he was just gaining attention, first in London clubs, and soon after, on an international stage.
The multi-faceted Australian musician has a confidence that belies his years and took a parallel path to Boy George’s own. Adept on all manner of stages — be it a club or a theater — the openly gay Sivan is equally at ease on YouTube where his arrogance-free self-assuredness leaps from the screen. He’s got what it takes.
“Degrassi” has long been a breeding ground for young talent — the perennial Canadian series did, after all, produce Drake — and its latest discovery is Macpherson. The 23-year-old has come into his own on the series, developing into an actor increasingly more at ease and ready to tackle a challenge like stepping into Boy George’s shoes. Macpherson’s fresh perspective, unfettered by too many preconceived ideas of the enduring icon, is just what the role calls for.