Round and Round we go….the Richard Pryor biopic is now in the hands of Oscar Award winning actor, Forrest Whitaker. This movie has been in the works for 20 years and it still hasn’t been made. From Eddie Murphy, Eddie Griffin, Damon Wayans, Chris Rock, Mike Epps and Marlon Wayans the producers, writers and directors can never come to an agreement with Pryor’s Widow, Jennifer Lee (who wanted Marlon Wayans to play him). As we reported previously the scripts and rights to his story has exchanged hands many times. At one point it was in the hands of Adam Sandler. But, the actors/comedians set to play Pryor couldn’t agree with the script changes his widow wanted. Mike Epps revealed that she wanted the script to be more about their relationship, then his life, so he was out! Be we all know, Mike (who was born to play Pryor!) has his chance because he will be playing Pryor in the Nina Simone biopic out later this year! Now, Forrest Whitaker will have his turn on the Merry-go-round. Let’s just hope it finally gets made…and they do the legend some justice!
According to Deadline:
EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from producing the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner Fruitvale, Forest Whitaker has taken over the nearly 20-year effort to bring the turbulent life of stand-up comedy legend Richard Pryor to the big screen. Whitaker is teaming with the late comedian’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, to produce the film through his Significant Productions shingle. Whitaker will develop a new script with input from Jennifer Pryor, and Significant Productions’ Nina Yang-Bongiovi, will also produce.
The Pryor biopic has been attempted numerous times, and the most recent version had Bill Condon poised to direct Marlon Wayans in the starring role for Sony Pictures, where Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison had set the project. Condon was certainly passionate about Pryor, but everything took a back seat when he signed on to helm the final two Twilight Saga installments. The project languished.
This was just the latest of many prior incarnations. The first was a Martin Scorsese-directed drama to star Damon Wayans, this well before Pryor died in 2005. Later, there was a Showtime pic that was to star Eddie Griffin and another attempt at a feature that was to star Mike Epps with Kasi Lemmons directing. Condon’s first flirtation had Eddie Murphy briefly interested, and then Chris Rock was briefly in the conversation.
Pryor had an unbelievable life, from growing up in a brothel, rising to become comedy’s biggest stage star, pushing the envelope on an edgy TV show that was subversive and ahead of its time, transitioning to film stardom, and nearly dying when he accidentally ignited himself while freebasing cocaine.