By Eliza Berman
November 25, 2014

All the major elements were lined up for a Joni Mitchell biopic back in 2012: a director (Katie Jacobs), a script (by John Sayles) and a star (Taylor Swift). Everything, that is, except for Joni Mitchell.

The folk legend told the Sunday Times this week why she put the kibosh on the project, an adaptation of Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us, which examined the careers of Mitchell as well as contemporaries Carly Simon and Carole King. Though she insinuated that casting Swift to play her was little more than a physical choice (“All you’ve got is a girl with high cheekbones”), she criticized the screenplay, as well. “It’s just a lot of gossip,” she says she told the producer. “You don’t have the great scenes.”

Mitchell also remarked that books about her are full of “assumptions” and “nonsense.” It’s a shame for Swift, who certainly would have taken the role seriously, had she received the opportunity. “I used to cry about Joni Mitchell all the time after a few glasses of wine,” she once told Rolling Stone.

A biopic about the pioneering singer, should it ever happen, would certainly make for an interesting couple of hours at the movies. Perhaps this is why so many biopics are made posthumously — for better or for worse.

Write to Eliza Berman at eliza.berman@time.com.

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