Richard Pryor is rightly recognized as one of, if not the best stand-ups of all time, and people have been trying to make a movie about him for going on 20 years now. Do you realize we almost got one produced by Happy Madison starring the guy from White Chicks? We actually have Twilight to thank for killing that one, when the project fizzled after director Bill Condon left to go work on Breaking Dawn, so don’t say those dead-eyed milk babies never did anything for you. Even Hitler had a good idea now and then.
Now, Deadline reports that Forest Whitaker, the old Ghost Dog himself, is teaming up with Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, to bring a Pryor biopic to screens. I sure hope it’s better those prior Pryor biopic ideas. (*bow tie spins*)
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.
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.
They keep trying to cast comedians in comedian biopics, the idea I guess being “well this guy’s funny too!” But that’s dumb. If you want a guy who can act like a comedian, hire an actor, the jokes are already written. You’ll want someone who can copy Pryor’s mannerisms, not inject his own personality into the project. And the best actors are all like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or the Bug Man in Men in Black, where they can just open up their inner void and wear their subjects like a skin suit. That’s why I’ve long advocated locking them all in a padded warehouse somewhere when they’re not making films. Out-of-work actors are almost as dangerous as people who pronounce “BYE-oh pic” “by-OP-ick.”