You’ll never believe who Martin Scorsese wants to cast as Frank Sinatra & Ava Gardner

Martin Scorsese loves to explore every part of the Italian-American experience. So much so, I can’t believe this is the first time he’s been attached to a film about Frank Sinatra. What took Marty so long?? Certainly, he should have been making movies about Sinatra all along! Sinatra’s life had everything Marty loves: good-looking dames, gangsters, mobsters, good music, dude friendships, infidelity and Las Vegas. Well, apparently Scorsese has settled on his next big project: a Frank Sinatra biopic which mostly focuses on Sinatra’s marriage to Ava Gardner. You will not even believe who he wants to cast as Sinatra and Gardner.

After landing 10 Oscar nominations for last year’s historical crime epic “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the 81-year-old director has mapped out his next several projects. Sources say Martin Scorsese plans to shoot two films back to back: the first about Jesus, the second a Frank Sinatra biopic.

The Oscar-winning director who helped usher in the Hollywood New Wave of the 1970s is looking to bypass the studio system and independently finance “Life of Jesus,” based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1973 book. He took the same approach with the 2016 drama “Silence” (which also was adapted from an Endō novel). In fact, Scorsese would like to reunite with “Silence” star Andrew Garfield for the Jesus project, though it’s unclear if the 40-year-old actor is being eyed for the titular role or to play one of the disciples. (Scholars believe Jesus died sometime between the ages of 33 and 38.) Miles Teller has also been eyed for the picture. Production is expected to begin later this year and shoot in Israel, Italy and Egypt. Filming in Israel could prove too great of a logistical challenge given that the country is at war with Hamas in Gaza. (A rep for Scorsese declined comment.)

The Sinatra project could also hit some snags: The legendary crooner’s daughter Tina Sinatra controls her father’s estate and hasn’t yet given her blessing to the film. But that hasn’t stopped Scorsese from putting together a killer cast that would see frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio playing the singer and Jennifer Lawrence portraying his second wife, actress Ava Gardner, sources say. It was Gardner who broke up Sinatra’s marriage with Nancy Barbato, Tina’s mother. With two of the biggest movie stars on the planet as leads, the film is drawing interest from major studios and streamers. Apple, which financed the $215 million “Flower Moon,” would love to stay in business with Scorsese, but Sony is said to be the frontrunner to nab the project.

Also on the immediate horizon is a Scorsese collaboration with Steven Spielberg on a “Cape Fear” TV series for Apple TV+. The two legends will serve as executive producers of the project, based on the 1991 and 1962 Universal movies. (Scorsese directed the 1991 noir thriller, which Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment produced.)

[From Variety]

Re: the Cape Fear series… does it need to be made into a series? I remember Scorsese’s remake with Nick Nolte and Robert DeNiro and it is… a tough watch. Great movie, really difficult story. It feels like Scorsese already told the story the way he wanted to thirty years ago. And the Jesus movie… Andrew Garfield?? MILES TELLER?? Oh lord. Y’all know he’s probably thinking about casting Lady Gaga as Mary Magdalene (this is just a rumor I’m making up).

As for the Sinatra movie… yeah, he’ll need the rights and there’s no guarantee that Tina Sinatra would let Marty have them, although if Tina gives the rights to anyone, it would probably be Marty. I just can’t believe he would cast Jennifer Lawrence and Leo DiCaprio though. You could make an okay argument for one or the other, but together??? No. Please. Why would you cast J-Law as one of the most famous brunette vixens of all time? I know hair dye exists, but being brunette is a state of mind which J-Law does not understand.

Note by CB: If you’d like to know more about Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra’s relationship (they got arrested on their first date, he was married when they met and she cheated on him with a guy who couldn’t speak English!), I recommend the awesome podcast Lovers Forever!

Photos courtesy of STARSTOCK/Photoshot / Avalon and Avalon Red.

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68 Responses to “You’ll never believe who Martin Scorsese wants to cast as Frank Sinatra & Ava Gardner”

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  1. Lisa says:

    put grandpa to bed, no thanks to all of it

  2. QuiteContrary says:

    He should have Ronan Farrow play his father.

    • Ann says:

      Lol! I was going to say the same thing! I can’t picture Leo as Sinatra at all but I can totally see Ronan Sinatra… oops Farrow… as the best casting choice looks wise. But alas, Ronan is not an actor, just an excellent journalist.

    • SarahLee says:

      LOL! But no. The only Frank that Ronan has is the eyes. I can see J Law as Ava Gardner, but Leo? Leo would seriously have to hit the gym.

      • blue says:

        ^Agree! Frank was very thin, even skinny, until his senior years. Leo is too old & too pudgy. There must be a younger blue-eyed actor around.

      • Megan says:

        Ronan has had a fair bit of plastic surgery that makes him look more like Sinatra, and he wears blue contacts.

    • HillaryIsAlwaysRight says:

      And Ava Mendes as Gardner!

      • laurie says:

        Yes my first thought was Eva!! But she’s not actively acting I believe.
        Just a huge NO to this casting.

      • Glossop says:

        Came here to say the same! Eva Mendes would be great.

      • KLaw says:

        I was thinking Catherine Zeta-Jones. Someone said downthread Angelina Jolie, and that’s also a great suggestion!

  3. Boxy Lady says:


  4. Mel says:

    Frank and Ava were a toxic shit show. His career was in a slump, she was a big star and his ego couldn’t take it. She saved his ass and he never got over it. He loved her for life though, when George C.Scott beat her he sent some gentlemen to have a “discussion “ with him. He paid her bills towards the end of her and I think he buried her. They loved each other but could NOT stay together . My God, Leo shouldn’t be cast and neither should JLaw, she’s as sexy as a picket fence compared to Gardner.

    • Deering24 says:

      Leo was surprisingly good as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. But Hughes was a rangy awkward Texas dude from money–_way_ different energy than Sinatra, a tough Jersey street kid. Too much of a stretch for Leo. And Lawrence as Gardner–nope. Not by a long shot. Lawrence has the past-wised-up-Southern-girl grit, but she’s sexy in a different way.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      A movie about this relationship would be hard pressed to manage even an R rating. What’s that rating below R because that was the appropriate rating for these two. And, geez, why does the article say Gardner broke up Sinatra’s marriage to Nancy, as if he was an innocent bystander?

      I wonder if they would touch that story about Gardner and Lana Turner in his Palm Springs pool. 🤔

    • Nikki says:

      My favorite quote was after Sinatra married Mia Farrow, Ava said “I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a little boy..” !!! BURN! 🙂

    • Gaaah says:

      Did Sinatra beat the crap out of Ava? I recall reading that and, if so, there is no way Tina will give the rights to that.
      Enough with Leo DiCaprio and Scorcese. Leo is overrated IMO.

  5. Becks1 says:

    LOL, Jennifer Lawrence was brunette in Hunger Games and those are my favorite movies of hers!

    I can completely see Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Sinatra, but despite my feelings about JLaw as a brunette…I dont see her as Ava Gardner. But I can’t think of who would work for that role.

    True story:
    My husband is from NJ, our first dance song was to Sinatra, he’s a big fan, etc. On one of my first trips to visit his family there, we’re driving around and the NJ radio station (froggy 100? Maybe?) was playing a Sinatra christmas song (this was December.) It ends and the DJ comes on and was like…….FRANCIS……ALBERT……SINATRA. There will never be another one like him!!

    I looked at my husband like, what? and he just shrugged and said “welcome to Jersey.” We still laugh about it to this day. I mean I love his voice but I’ve never heard that from a DJ before hahaha.

  6. BeanieBean says:

    I always thought Eva Mendes looked like Ava Gardner. As for Leo, he didn’t really look like Howard Hughes either, but he was good in that movie. It’ll be a good movie, at least, it’s Scorsese.

    • May says:

      Eva Mendes, yes, and from the photos in this thread I am reminded of Gisele Bundchen.

    • Karla says:

      I could get behind Eva Mendez as Ava. She has the right „sensuality“ for the role. Whereas Leo…okay he has the blue eyes but apart from that?!? His Face, physique is everything but Frank Sinatra…

      • ellyn says:

        I’ve heard that Eva is married to an actor who sings—maybe they could “ken-vince” him to play Sinatra (he would be better casting than DiCaprio).

      • Hannah1 says:

        Gosling would be better, but he’s too tall and fit to capture Sinatra’s ‘boyish man’ charm.

        Cillian Murphy?

      • tankerbelle says:

        YES Ellyn, this is the casting I can get behind. I’d watch it but ONLY with Eva and Ryan.

  7. ariel says:

    I know he’s hot for Leo. But Leo is not good at every role.
    Same for Jennifer L. She’s wonderful- but there are other actresses in existance.

    Also- Scorsese seems so up his own behind. Most movies do not need to be 3+ hours long.
    It all just seems self indulgent.

  8. girl_ninja says:

    Make it Chris Pine and Anne Hathaway and I’m down. Yes Chris is too good looking in comparison to Frank but he has the gravitas, blue eyes, acting chops and the voice. And Anne can do anything. They would murder their roles.

    • TigerMcQueen says:

      This is the only way I’d maybe watch it, if such a film were indeed directed by Scorsese (see my comment just above). I’d LOVE to see Chris and Anne in another movie together.

    • lucy2 says:

      I like these suggestions.
      Leo and Jennifer just seem like “let’s pick 2 big names to get attention for the movie” instead of more interesting casting.

  9. GiveMePizza says:

    No. No. No. And No.

  10. Nixie says:

    Oh no to Jennifer Lawrence. I have absolutely nothing against her as an actress but I love Ava Gardner and Jennifer doesn’t have the sultry swagger. I don’t think Leo is right but I’m being petty and shallow because I think his head is too distractingly large to be Sinatra. But I think he could pull it off

  11. Megan says:

    I just can’t with the casting for either movie. Jesus most definitely looked nothing like Andrew Garfield or Miles Teller and JLaw doesn’t have an ounce of Ava’s sex appeal.

  12. Amy Bee says:

    Filming in Israel and Egypt is just a bad idea right now for various reasons. As for the Sinatra movie, there are other actors available besides DiCaprio and Lawrence.

  13. Taffeta says:

    If we’re thinking up new casts: I think it should be a Caulkin brother playing Sinatra – Mac or Kieran. And Jessica Pare from Mad Men should be Ava.

    I would watch Andrew Garfield in any role.

  14. JustMe says:

    Just no to both those for Sinatra movie. How about Joseph Gordon- Levitt or even Andrew Garfield, or maybe James Marsden (and don’t come fo me it’s just a suggestion but Justin Timberlake is physically similar).

    Now Meghan Markle I the role – would be worth it to see British pressexplode

    And for Ava I think Scarlett Johansson would suit. jLaw doesn’t have the sex appeal to play her. Anyone other than Margot Robbie or Anne Hathaway.

  15. Matilda says:

    No, no and no to all of it. And can you please let a good casting director do their job.

  16. Missy says:

    I looked hard at the banner pic before reading ahead and guessed Leo (duh I feel like of course MS would pick him) and Ana de Armas lol

  17. Jaded says:

    Do not get a white boy to play Jesus — pleeeeeeeze.

  18. SueBarbri33 says:

    Leo, absolutely not. Although, Leo now could probably tap into whatever Frank was feeling at the time, but I just don’t think he’s a good fit. I can’t think of anybody else right now, but Leo ain’t it. But a Scorsese movie based on Sinatra with the gloss and beats of Casino would absolutely get the job done. Killers of the Flower Moon was too far outside of his wheel house, but I think this project would shine.

  19. MaisieMom says:

    Garfield is Jewish. At least one of his parents is and I think he identifies that way. Personally I don’t think Marty should make a movie about Jesus at all, but if he’s going to cast one of them, it should be Garfield. He’s closer to having the right look for it and he’s also just a very good actor.

    As to the Sinatra/Gardner movie, well. Leo is a fantastic actor but he’s too old and puffy faced now to play Frank in his 30s. He would have been great when he was younger. But I think Jennifer Lawrence can pull off Gardner, actually. She’s done brunette before and she’s a very dynamic, versatile actress. She’s not the best choice maybe but she can do it.

    I don’t really understand why people are suggesting Anne Hathaway. She has the coloring and maybe the features a bit more, but I don’t think she has the right energy for it. Ava Gardner was hard drinking and messy in a lot of ways, kind of like the character Jen played (very well) in her most recent comedy.

  20. Mia4s says:

    Sigh….no. Just…a whole bunch of no.

    Marty you can work with different actors, it’s OK. You’ll still be friends. You can even come back to work together later. But DiCaprio was already miscast in Killers of the Flower Moon (He was. Yes he was. Sorry not sorry.) so unfortunately this will probably happen.

    Although the thought of Miles Teller in a period Jesus story has had me laughing for 15 minutes! So thanks for that! (Also, much like was said about Dakota Johnson in that Jane Austen adaptation: Miles Teller has a face that has seen an IPhone).

  21. pb says:

    Austin Butler for Sinatra, Ana de Armas for Ava.

  22. LightPurple says:

    This would be at least his second film about Christ (Last Temptation of Christ with Willem DaFoe) and at least his second involving Ava Gardner with one of her relationships as the title character. Why not just make a biopic of Ava Gardner since he’s so fascinated with her? Or doesn’t the woman count as much? Or he could do a film just focusing on the making of The Bible starring Ava Gardner. And another Cape Fear?

    Find some new stuff, Marty.

  23. SIde Eye says:

    Lenny Kravitz as Jesus. I don’t know who can play Ava Gardner. I like the Eva Mendes suggestion. Anne Hathaway. Angelina Jolie could play her. Zendaya is closer in looks to her than JLAW and she has actual sex appeal. Or even Jennifer Lopez. But I think this should go to an entirely new unheard of actress. As for Leo – noooooo. Chris Pine yes. James Marsden yes. Seth McFarlane sounds just like Sinatra when he sings but he doesn’t look anything like him. I honestly don’t know. Ronan looks just like him but as someone pointed out upthread he is a journalist.

    • Jks says:

      So many interesting suggestions! Yes to all, plus, how about Charlie Heaton or Harry Styles? Too young? It’s the shape of the head and musicality.

      • SIde Eye says:

        I love the Charlie Heaton suggestion! I don’t know if Harry Styles has the acting chops and he may be too young. I agree with your the shape of the head comment lol

  24. Danbury says:

    Lovers Forever is an amazing podcast! I second the recommendation

  25. Ladiabla says:

    I wish Ronan would do it lol. And off the top of my head, I can’t think of who could play Ava, but absolutely not Jennifer Lawrence.

  26. emmlo says:

    I agree so much about brunette being a state of mine! It made me so mad when they kept casting blondes and redheads to play Lois MF Lane. 😒

  27. Alwcaday says:

    Hasn’t Scorsese already made a film in part about Ava Gardner with Kate Beckinsale? I know it was a glorified cameo really in The Aviator but still… going back to the same people/stories.

    Would Christian Bale be a better Sinatra? He’s literally the only dude in Leo’s peer group I can think of that has that lean physique/facial structure. No blue eyes though, and contacts usually look crazy.

    I’m surprised he wouldn’t go with finding a near-unknown for Ava Gardner if he’s got Leo locked in for star power, so they’re not bringing their own baggage to the role – like he did with Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street – although that was a bit of a lightning-in-a-bottle performance. He/the casting directors obviously clocked her potential.

    • Deering24 says:

      Beckensale was surprisingly good as Gardner—though a bit frosty and reserved. And she was bringing more Barbara Stanwyck/Lana Turner-type energy, but she was convincing as a tough 50’s star

  28. Carrie says:

    Stephen Sanchez for Frank Sinatra. He could do it.

  29. NikkiK says:

    You need a bombshell to play Ava. Meghan Fox would have been a good pick 15 years ago prior to all her plastic surgery. Jennifer Lawrence? No way. If any movie calls for some relative unknowns who can bring the heat, it’s this one, should it actually happen.

  30. Oswin says:

    Jennifer Lawrence is a TERRIBLE actress, and the closest she’ll ever come to being “mysterious” is playing Mystique. Once you’ve shown your predilection for telling the world your toileting habits and regaling everyone with tales of scratching your ass on sacred Hawaiian monuments, your ability to be “mysterious” goes out the window. Ava Gardner would never tell fart jokes or talk about peeing techniques on chat shows. Can you imagine?

    And Leo would just play Sinatra as smarmy. He’s a fine actor, but I think he’s try to relate himself and Frank too much for it not to feel like a slimy Oscar-grab.

  31. jensays says:

    I’m 2nd-ing (3rd-ing?) the comment above – Lovers Forever is a GREAT podcast. her voice is SOOOO soothing and I learned A TON about Frank and Eva. I wish the pod creator would do the same treatment with other famous Hollywood couples.

  32. Barbie1 says:

    I like J-law. She needs to amp up her star status with a high ptofile film helmed by a great director. Not into Leo but Scorsese’s love for him shall never wane omg. Unfortunately for us.

  33. Lady Digby says:

    Balding, blue eyes, boozy, womanizer, likes to throw punches and hates the press whilst thinking he’s God’s gift to the world? Ideal casting for Willy!

  34. beauxblue says:

    Ava was in her early 20s and Sinatra was in his early 30s when they married. Sure, sounds like great casting.

  35. SK says:

    I think Rami Malik would be great as Sinatra!
    No idea who would be good to play Ava Gardner but Ana De Armas is the best idea I’ve read so far

  36. Eve Reilly says:

    Timothee Chalamet as younger Sinatra and Jude Law as older. Emmaline Campbell as Ava… it’s a difficult cast for Ava Gardner, she was drop dead stunningly beautiful!