12 celebrity biopics coming in 2021: from Pamela Anderson and Elvis Presley to Whitney Houston and Madonna

The lives of some of the biggest names in music, film and pop culture will be hitting the big and small screen next year

Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley and Pamela Anderson are all getting their lives turned into biopics over the coming year. Image Direct, Shutterstock, Getty Images
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Some lives are so interesting, they deserve to be lived twice: once for real and once on the silver screen.

Offering fans the chance to enjoy even more insight into the lives and careers of their favourite stars, the fascinating stories of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and more will be laid bare in a handful of biopics set for release next year.

Nineties headline-grabbers Anderson and Lee are set to be portrayed by Lily James and Sebastian Stan, while the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, hand-picked Jennifer Hudson to play her in the film of her life, Respect. The search is still on for the actors talented enough to play Madonna and Boy George – and rock 'n' roll enough to play Lemmy Kilmister.

Here are 12 biopics to look forward to in 2021 …

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

Played by: Lily James and Sebastian Stan

British actress Lily James will play Pamela Anderson, while Sebastian Stan will portray Tommy Lee in Hulu's 'Pam & Tommy'. Getty Images, AFP, Shutterstock

British Rebecca actress Lily James and Avengers actor Sebastian Stan are set to play one of the most scandalous couples of the 1990s – Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

The eight-episode miniseries from Hulu called Pam & Tommy will follow the headline-making antics of the Baywatch star and her Motley Crue drummer husband, who famously married after just four days of dating. Seth Rogan is also set to star.

Whitney Houston

Played by: Naomi Ackie

'Star Wars' actress Naomi Ackie will play powerhouse singer, Whitney Houston. Image Direct, Getty Images

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker star Naomi Ackie will be bringing the life of Whitney Houston to the big screen in biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Following the celebrated singer's life from her beginnings singing in a church choir to her tragic death in 2012, it will be written by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten.

“Naomi Ackie impressed us at every stage of the process,” said director Stella Meghie. “I was moved by her ability to capture the stage presence of a global icon while bringing humanity to her interior life.”

Elvis Presley

Played by: Austin Butler

Austin Butler will play Elvis Presley in the long-awaited biopic, alongside Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Shutterstock, Getty Images

In an as-yet-untitled biopic, California-born actor Austin Butler will take on the mantle of playing the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, Elvis Presley. The biopic, which is being directed by Romeo & Juliet's Baz Luhrmann, will cover Presley's rise to fame to become the biggest star in the world – told through the lens of his complicated relationship with his manager for more than 20 years, Colonel Tom Parker. Tom Hanks is set to play Parker.

Bob Dylan

Played by: Timothee Chalamet

1965-era Bob Dylan will be played by Timothee Chalamet in the biopic about the folk singer. Getty Images

Cinema’s current darling, Timothee Chalamet, will portray legendary folk singer Bob Dylan in an as-yet-untitled biopic due in 2021. The film will take place during 1965, when Dylan controversially switched to using an electric guitar, leading to the famous “Traitor” accusations. The film had begun shooting this year, but production was put on hold due to Covid-19.

Aretha Franklin

Played by: Jennifer Hudson

Aretha Franklin handpicked Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson, to play her in her biopic 'Respect'. Getty Images

Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will portray Aretha Franklin after the Queen of Soul herself hand-picked the actress and singer to play her before she passed away in August 2018. Titled what else, but Respect, the biopic follows her life from being a child singing in her father's church choir to international superstardom.

Boy George

'Game of Thrones' star Sophie Turner has expressed an interest in playing Culture Club frontman, Boy George in the film about his life. Getty Images

The British singer, DJ and former Culture Club frontman is getting the biopic treatment, which will be written by Anvil: The Story of Anvil writer, Sacha Gervasi. Following his early years born into a working class Irish family and raised in Woolwich, South London, the film will follow his rise to the top of the pop charts in the 1980s. Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark, has expressed an interest in playing the frontman.

Teddy Pendergrass

Played by: Tyrese Gibson

'Fast & Furious' actor Tyrese Gibson will be taking on the mantle of playing R&B legend, Teddy Pendergrass. Getty Images, Shutterstock

Grammy-nominee and Fast & Furious actor Tyrese Gibson will be bringing the life of RnB singer Teddy Pendergrass to the big screen.

“I am honoured to take this journey ... This is the role that I feel I was born to play,” said Gibson. “Teddy Pendergrass embraced me and before he passed, put the responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story … Teddy, I just hope we make you, your wife and family proud ... Here we go!”

Gucci Mane

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 27: Rapper Gucci Mane looks on from court side before the game between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets TD Garden on November 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.   Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

The American rapper and pioneer of trap music is producing his own biopic based on his book, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. The musician, whose real name is Radric Delantic Davis, has yet to choose who will play him in the story which begins with his life in prison, where he started his career by releasing mixtapes while incarcerated.

Celine Dion

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 29: Celine Dion attends miu miu club event at Hippodrome d'Auteuil on June 29, 2019 in Paris, France.(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Although this isn't technically a biopic, the film Aline is based on the life and music of French-Canadian singer Celine Dion. Set for release in March 2021, the film is directed by and stars French actress Valerie Lemercier who plays Aline. The character is inspired by Dion, with Aline discovered as a major singing talent, becoming a global superstar and tragically losing her husband.


NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Madonna speaks on stage at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 event on December 9, 2016 in New York City.   Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine/AFP

The Material Girl has enlisted Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody to write a biopic about her life, with plenty of input from Madonna as co-writer. Still as-yet-untitled, the story will follow Madonna's rise to stardom, as well as the effect she's had on shaping the cultural and musical landscape. Madonna's long-time manager Guy Oseary will executive producer.

Lemmy Kilmister

LONDON - OCTOBER 4:  Lemmy Kilminster of Motorhead poses in the Awards Room after receiving the Award for Living Legend at the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour, the music magazine's inaugural awards, at Cafe de Paris on October 4, 2005 in London, England. Categories include Album Of The Year, Band Of The Year, Best Reissue, Classic Rock Collection and Classic Rock Event Of The Year.  (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)

The legendary Motorhead frontman, who died in 2015, is getting the biopic treatment courtesy of Greg Olliver, who spent several years with the band for his 2010 documentary, Lemmy. Production is slated to begin in early 2021 on the film which will follow Kilmister's early life growing up in England, as well as his time as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and the five years he spent with rock band Hawkwind before he founded Motorhead.


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