Brian Hiatt
June 30, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Playing Bridget Jones was one thing, but is sweet, all-American Renée Zellweger ready to become a promiscuous, alcoholic, bisexual rock singer who dies at the age of 27? Ready or not, Zellweger has agreed to play the late Janis Joplin in the biopic ”Piece of My Heart,” according to Variety. The star’s participation has revived the long-in-the-works project, which is now on track to begin filming next year, though no director or script is in place, Variety reports. The film’s producers hope ”Heart” can be Zellweger’s follow-up to the upcoming ”Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (which just scored “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” director Beeban Kidron).

Among the actresses rumored for the Joplin part over the years have been Melissa Etheridge, Courtney Love, and Brittany Murphy. But producer Tom Rosenberg told Variety that “Renée has been obsessed with Janis for years and is totally committed to this.” Zellweger — an accomplished, albeit stage-shy, vocalist — would presumably handle her own singing on Joplin hits like the title song, ”Me and Bobby McGee,” and ”Ball and Chain.” And maybe rumored boyfriend Jack White of the White Stripes can be in the movie version of Big Brother and the Holding Company. Or maybe not.

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