Anton Corbijn, one of the most reluctant filmmakers around who seemingly makes movies that he is only entirely passionate about, comes up with a new biopic about James Dean – a project he initially turned down. When he read the script of Luke Davies focusing on the “friendship” between iconic photographer Dennis Stock and Dean, he reconsidered. Davies, though more famous for his poetry, is still an under-reviewed screenwriter. Corbijn himself is more identified as a rock photographer and music video director.

With Life it’s first and foremost a story about a photographer, Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson), who profiled James Dean (DeHaan). So it’s the story of a photographer and their subject. As a photographer that story interested me: studying the power balance between a photographer and their subject.

– Anton Corbijn on making Life

Incidentally, this is only the second dramatic feature about James Dean that will be released theatrically – although, this is as much a movie about Stock as it is on the ill-fated Hollywood icon. Although the film received a generally mixed reception (Variety vs Indiewire) during its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival last February, Robert Pattinson and Dane Dehaan’s performances generated enough buzz to warrant a US release in time for Oscar-qualifying week. 

James Dean Films Through The Years

Stephen McHattie as James Dean

James Dean (Dir. James Butler, 1976, Television Movie)

Casper Van Dien as James Dean
Casper Van Dien as James Dean

James Dean: Race with Destiny (Dir. Mohammed Rustam, 1997, Television Movie)

James Franco in his career-defining performance as James Dean

James Dean (Dir. Mark, Rydell, 2001, Television Movie)

Cole Carson as fictional James Dean
Cole Carson as fictional James Dean

Two Friendly Ghosts (Dir. Parker Ellerman, 2011, Short Film)

James Preston as James Dean
James Preston as the hypersexualized queer James Dean

Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean (Dir. Matthew Mishory, 2012, USA)

Dane DeHaan prepares to recreate James Dean’s iconic Life magazine spread

Life (Dir. Anton Corbijn, 2015, USA)