An Interracial ‘A Star Is Born’?

Beyonce is set to star in Clint Eastwood's remake of 'A Star Is Born.'

I’ve been thinking a lot about movie remakes that turn white characters into African-Americans for a side project, so I’ve been keeping Clint Eastwood’s A Star is Born remake in my peripheral vision. I’m not the world’s biggest Beyonce fan (I’ve got a thing for her much more uneven but much more interesting sister Solange), so the prospect of a story about her rise to awesomeness wasn’t incredibly high on my list.

But my interest is nominally piqued by the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio might be jumping into the Norman Maine role, as the older addicted actor who helps our starlet on her rise to glory, then kills himself to force her to go on with her career rather than spending all her time taking care of him. It might not come to pass. And I hesitate to declare that interracial relationships are inherently cinematically interesting. The goal, after all, is for there to be enough depictions of interracial couples — and gay couples — in popular culture that some stories can be about the specific issues those couples face, and some stories can be about the challenges of raising your adorable adopted daughter.

But the specific contours of this very old story do make me curious about what an interracial dynamic would lend to the central relationship, which already has a lot of interesting tensions around gender, ambition, and power. And it would be in keeping with Eastwood’s last decade or so of directorial work, much of which has focused on themes of racial reconciliation, whether it’s sport bringing together a war-torn country in Invictus, the relationship between a Korean War vet and his Hmong neighbors in Gran Torino, or the dual perspectives of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. Shrinking that stage down to an intimate relationship would be a new way to get at that perspective. And frankly, the movie would be interestingly meta at this particular moment in the discussion about representation and popular culture. A movie that’s about the struggle to get a female actress to really hit the big time, much less what it’s like to have a black female actress take up an Angelina Jolie- or Hillary Swank-like role in the Hollywood of today (not to mention if the damn thing ends up being a period piece) would speak directly to tough, ongoing conversations about why movies and television underrepresent women and people of color.