Deadline reports that The Weinstein Company is set to greenlight a film based on the life of comedian Richard Pryor, currently titled Richard Pyror: Is It Something I Said? Lee Daniels will direct from a script by his Empire collaborator Danny Strong and will star Mike Epps as Pryor. Oprah Winfrey has been cast as the comedian’s brothel-running grandmother with Eddie Murphy also cast as Pryor’s father. Kate Hudson will appear as Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is attached as a producer.
According to the story, Epps nearly played Pryor ten years ago in a version of the project spearheaded by the comedian himself before his death in late 2005. It later became set to star Marlon Wayans and to be produced by Adam Sandler‘s Happy Madison production company.
My first exposure to Pryor was, unfortunately, Superman III; a film that both hobbled the performer and Superman — though, I’ve come to find some virtues in it in subsequent years. As the 1980s wore on, his film work became more forgettable, but on stage, Pryor was a force of nature. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip. It’s a concert film from 1982 in which he recalls an early gig at a mob-controlled nightclub in the Catskills and the time he lit himself on fire while freebasing cocaine.
He also co-wrote, directed and starred in the semi-autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling.
Beyond the groundbreaking material, his life is full of incredible stories — many he incorporated into his act — making it a natural source of material for a film. In fact, it’s surprising it took this long to lock down all the right players.
Production is set to begin in March.
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