Maybe the hottest question in Hollywood right now is: Who will play Elon Musk?
News broke Friday that hot-ticket indie studio A24 snagged the rights to film Walter Isaacson’s biography of the controversial billionaire Tesla and SpaceX chief. NBC News reported that the agreement came after a highly competitive bidding war involving multiple studios and filmmakers.
As if that weren’t head-turning enough — A24, which dominated last year’s Oscars, is popular among film buffs for edgy fare like “Midsommar” and “Talk to Me” — Darren Aronofsky is attached to direct the biopic.
The chance to play such a divisive figure as Musk would be catnip to most actors anyway. But the chance to work with Aronofsky is likely an added bonus. His ambitious movies often demand actors go to award-show-worthy extremes, giving him a great track record of steering performers to Oscar nominations and wins.
Earlier this year, Brendan Fraser won best actor for his role as a reclusive and depressed professor in Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” while Hong Chau received a best supporting actress nomination. In 2011, Natalie Portman won best actress for the director’s psychological ballet drama “Black Swan.” Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei were both nominated in 2009 for “The Wrestler.” Before that, Ellen Burstyn was nominated for best actress in 2001 for Aronofsky’s disturbing drug-addiction drama “Requiem for a Dream.”
But the Oscar mojo wouldn’t belong entirely to Aronofsky.
Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography supplied the source material for the 2015 Danny Boyle film of the same name, which netted Michael Fassbender a best actor nomination for playing the late Apple mastermind. Another polarizing tech figure, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was the subject of David Fincher’s 2010 drama, “The Social Network,” which led to star Jesse Eisenberg snagging a best actor nomination.
It remains to be seen who will end up getting the Musk role, which will draw more scrutiny than most casting decisions in Hollywood, given the billionaire’s outspoken and provocative presence on social media. Aronofsky’s protagonists also tend to be irreparably flawed and self-destructive.
At the moment, though, Musk appears happy with the way it’s going. “Glad Darren is doing it. He is one of the best,” he posted on his platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
CNBC has asked Musk about whom he’d like to see play him in the movie.