Emma Stone in Negotiations to Star in Musical ‘La La Land’ From ‘Whiplash’ Director

Damien Chazelle wrote and will direct the film for Lionsgate

Emma Stone is in negotiations to star in Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land,” multiple individuals familiar with the Lionsgate project have told TheWrap.

Stone has been in discussions to star for several months, ever since Emma Watson dropped out to play Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Miles Teller recently exited the project, prompting Chazelle to offer the lead to Eddie Redmayne, the newly-minted Oscar winner who has kept his schedule open as David Yates considers him for the role of Newt Scamander in WB’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Ryan Gosling is the latest A-lister rumored to be eyed for the male lead.

“La La Land” is a two-hander that follows a pair of dreamers — aspiring actress Mia, who’s lonely desperate to fit in, and cocky yet charismatic jazz pianist Sebastian — who fall in love in Los Angeles. However, the city that brought them together may tear them apart, as they soon discover that balancing love and art in such a cutthroat climate isn’t easy.

Jordan Horowitz (“The Kids Are All Right”) will produce for Gilbert Films, while Fred Berger will produce for his own Impostor Pictures. Lionsgate will distribute the movie, which was packaged by WME Global. The film is also expected to find Chazelle reuniting with his go-to composer Justin Hurwitz (“Whiplash”).

Also read: Miles Teller in ‘Whiplash’ Opens Sundance With a Rousing Bang

A song-and-dance romance, “La La Land” bills itself as a movie about big dreams, the big city and the kind of love that makes life feel like a musical.

TheWrap obtained Chazelle’s “lookbook” for “La La Land” — a document that helps describe the story, characters, look and tone of the film — and found the Director’s Statement to be quite compelling.

I’d like to make a contemporary musical about L.A., starting with the L.A. we know but slowly building to a vision of the city as romantic metropolis–one that is actually worthy of the dreams it inspires. I’d like to make a musical about the way L.A.’s peculiar rhythms can push its residents to the edge of their emotions–be they hope, desperation or love. Think the kind of teetering-toward-madness you see in “The Graduate” or “Boogie Nights”, and imagine if you were to push that further. In this case, the city pushes its residents all the way: it pushes them into song.

The characters of this movie are just people trying to make it. One thing most movies about struggling L.A. actors and musicians miss is the poetry of their struggle: these are blue-collar folks working day in and day out to make something happen. What I’m interested in is pitting their yearnings and their ambitions against the musical genre. After all, musicals are all about the push-and-pull between reality and fantasy; the heroes of this film, because of their big dreams, are constantly poised on that edge. 

At its core, this is a movie about artists in love–and what it means to be an artist in love in arguably the most competitive city on the planet. How do you juggle the need to find success as an artist with the need to share oneself with another human being? And how do you do so in a place where every poster, every street corner and every sign remind you of the glories just beyond reach? L.A. is the “Dream Factory”, and to me there’s something swooningly romantic about that: all those unsung songs and unrealized ideas clouding the air. By casting an affectionate eye on a pair of young hopefuls, while aspiring to the kind of full-fledged romanticism you hardly ever see in today’s movies, I hope to capture the spirit of the city I now call home, and make a movie that feels both classical and urgent–and, yes, intrinsically L.A.”

Stone, who is coming off an Oscar nomination for “Birdman,” next stars in Cameron Crowe‘s “Aloha” with Bradley Cooper and Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man” with Joaquin Phoenix. She’s represented by WME and Anonymous Content.