It’s been 20 years to the day since Joey Ramone died after a seven-year battle with lymphoma just shy of turning 50. It’s no coincidence, then, that for better or for worse, Netflix announced that Pete Davidson will portray the iconic singer in the upcoming biopic I Slept With Joey Ramone. The pair do bear a bit of resemblance, though Davidson’s lanky, tatted frame is three inches shy of Ramone’s towering 6’6.”
The film is titled after a 2009 memoir by Ramone’s brother, Mickey Leigh, and has the full support of Ramone’s estate. Leigh has signed on as an executive producer alongside Davidson. The latter also wrote the film’s treatment, marking his latest project with the director Jason Orley. (The director cast Davidson as the star of his 2019 film Big Time Adolescence and directed the actor-comedian’s 2020 standup special on Netflix.)
If it’s anything like the book, I Slept With Joey Ramone will start off in Forest Hills, Queens. Ramone, who was then known as Jeffrey Ross Hyman, grew up playing music with Leigh before splitting off with two of his friends to form his eponymous band in 1974. While Leigh enjoyed a relatively normal adolescence, Ramone’s was marked by struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and simply fitting in.
“Joey was taunted and mocked and thrown down staircases for being tall,” the band’s former manager, Danny Fields, recently told the New York Post. Leigh has similarly downcast memories. “He was at the peak of his hippiness in high school and wore a sheepskin coat,” he recalled. “People saw Joey walking into school and they would say, ‘Who is that freak?’”
Netflix has yet to announce when production starts or when the film will be released. In the meantime, Davidson is keeping busy. He’s been hanging out with Phoebe Dynevor, enduring Saturday Night Live’s mockery, and providing voice work for the upcoming animated film Marmaduke, which finds Davidson as “an overgrown lapdog with an irascible streak and a penchant for mischief.”