Aside from being lanky and generally rough-around-the-edges, Pete Davidson doesn’t really resemble Joey Ramone. Nevertheless, the SNL cast member has signed on to play the legendary punk rocker in a new biopic, Netflix announced on Thursday — which also happened to be the 20th anniversary of Ramone’s death from leukemia on April 15, 2001. Gabba gabba hey, that’s show business, I guess.
The film is being adapted from I Slept With Joey Ramone, the memoir penned by the rocker’s brother, Mickey Leigh. Davidson and his frequent collaborator, director Jason Orley (Big Time Adolescence; Pete Davidson: Alive From New York), are actually working together on the script. It’s worth noting that the late musician’s estate is fully onboard with this endeavor. Truth be told, I think I am, too.
STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson called Davidson “perfect for this role” in a statement, but not everyone agrees. Vulture ran an article reacting to his casting headlined “Hey, Ho, Hell No.” But I object to this harsh assessment! People seem to love to hate Davidson, and I’m not sure why. He’s a rather empathetic figure these days, and I love how brazenly he talks about mental illness. Admittedly, I was publicly critical of Davidson’s antics circa the Ariana Grande engagement in 2018. (Remember the era of BDE? Gosh, we were living in simpler times.) But now I can see why Phoebe Dynevor got after it — Netflix, too.
Back to the topic at hand: Ramone’s facial structure is totally different from Davidson’s, but that’s easily remedied with makeup and prosthetics. (Remember, Cate Blanchett once convincingly played Bob Dylan — though she’s also an incredibly gifted actor.) Check out this old clip of Ramone on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and compare it to any of Davidson’s appearances on “Weekend Update.” There’s a similar lurching, awkward, self-conscious quality to how they carry themselves. And aside from SNL, Davidson hasn’t really gotten to prove himself as an actor. His last big effort, The King of Staten Island, fizzled amid the pandemic. I Slept With Joey Ramone could be his moment.
On a thornier note, I'm not sure what the Queens-born punk rock icon would think about a comedian from Staten Island playing him on the big screen. But hey, according to diligent reporting by VICE, the much-maligned borough best reached by ferry would easily defeat its Long Island brethren in an all-out civil war (though the Bronx wins overall). Can't say how this intel might impact Davidson's performance in I Slept With Joey Ramone, but somehow it feels pertinent.