It seems like an Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock biopic will make it to the big screen before the very very long gestating Richard Pryor one will. Now The Kind Of Scotland star Forest Whitaker is taking over the project just as a documentary about the larger than life comic genius hits the Tribeca Film Festival next month.
Bill Condon was the last director onboard to helm the Richard Pryor film to be titled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, but as we predicted, once he took on The Twilight Breaking Dawn films, he never looked back. Many projects in Hollywood linger, and this one has been no different after being on again/off again for nearly twenty years! With such a turbulent larger than life subject, you would have thought this would be a no brainer for any studio, but as many of us know, behind the scenes can be just as turbulent trying to get something made.
Even Chris Rock intimated that behind the scenes of this project was a bit turbulent. His comment about Michael Vick and his pitbulls also didn't do him any favors with Pryor's widow Jennifer who is very active with animal welfare and animal rights issues. (Both she and Richard founded Pryor's Planet before his death in 2005.) I was able to interview and get to know her back in 2006 on another project, and I could tell how passionate she was about getting this biopic done with respect.
I was a little surprised that Whitaker and Pryor are going to do an entirely new script as I thought the Caleb Kane script was pretty good and honest about the comics controversial life. We've already heard that Condon's last choice to play Pryor Marlon Wayans won't be happening either. I hope that the Wayans audition tape for the role gets leaked as many people would quickly rally to question why he couldn't play the part he was easily born to. If you've not seen Requiem For A Dream, just check out his role in that and you'll understand. In his screen test, not only was he able to capture the comedy of Richard Pryor but also that vulnerability that those close to him only experienced.
Deadline suggested Michael B. Jordan for the role which could certainly work, but hopefully Whitaker will take another look at Wayans' tape and see who could truly do it the justice it deserves. Until then you can check out the really great documentary about the comic Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic from Marina Zenovich when it plays at Tribeca Film Festival next month.