Virtual unknown cast as Janis Joplin

Okay, so they don't exactly look alike -- but what good would that do if the actress playing Janis Joplin couldn't evoke her larger-than-life essence?

Far from a household name, Tony-winning actress Nina Arianda has signed on for her first starring role on the big screen -- a biopic currently titled "Joplin." [via Deadline]

The film will feature a whopping 21 Janis Joplin songs, all sung by Arianda -- who has appeared in musicals including "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

While Arianda doesn't bear much physical resemblance to the late rock icon --who died at the age of 27 in 1970 of a drug overdose -- she does possess arguably the most important ingredient to portraying Janis Joplin: a raspy voice. (See her Tony acceptance speech at 1:17-in.)

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The film has been in the works for the past twelve years, and many performers have been considered for the lead -- including actress Zooey Deschanel, pop star Pink, the late Brittany Murphy and singer Melissa Etheridge. It will center around the last six months of the late '60s singer's life, including flashbacks to earlier in her career. Its director is festival darling Sean Durkin, whose film "Martha Marcy May Marlene" earned him the Best Director award at Sundance last year.

Arianda won a best actress Tony Award just last month for her performance in the Broadway play "Venus in Fur," which took its final bow around that same time.

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Arianda has appeared in a handful of films in the past few years including Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" and Brett Ratner's "Tower Heist" and smaller film "Higher Ground." She has also appeared on the Julianna Margulies-led television series "The Good Wife."

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