Richard Pryor Biopic with Marlon Wayans is Shooting this Fall
Back in October of last year it was announced that comedic actor Marlon Wayans would be playing the legendary stand up comic Richard Pryor in a biopic about Pryor. The role was originally supposed to go to Eddie Murphy, but turns out he just wasn't right for the job. The LA Times just published a huge profile piece on Marlon Wayans tonight that focuses on how prepared he is and perfect he is for this sort of role-of-a-lifetime. It's a good piece and I'm glad to hear that they're moving forward with Wayans in place. "I want to be in dramas, I want to produce, I want to write and I want to prove I can handle a role such as this one."
The first big, and somewhat controversial question, is why Marlon Wayans (this guy) for this role? There are other more talented dramatic actors, right? What makes him perfect for this? Let's let Marlon make his case.
"Look, I want to be able to make the stupidest movies ever, because they make people laugh and they make money," Wayans recently said with a smirk. "But that's not all I want to do. And I think I've proven to some people -- the ones paying attention -- that I can do more. Everybody else, well, they can wait and see and make up their mind."
Simple as that. He'll prove it soon. The project is called Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? and it depicts Pryor's controversial brand of comedy and his battle with drugs. It's being written and directed by Bill Condon, the man behind Dreamgirls who hasn't much done since (except the Oscar ceremony). It's supposed to have a $20 million budget with Chris Rock, Pryor's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor, and Mark Gordon all lined up to produce, so it sounds like it's in good hands. "This is like an invitation to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for me, and I've never been more excited in my life than when I got the role," Wayans said.
But how did Eddie Murphy lose the role? If they had him locked, what changed? Producer Mark Gordon talks about what made them realize they needed to go in a different direction casting someone as Pryor.
"Obviously there are a number of requirements to playing Richard Pryor -- you have to be funny, of course, but this role also has so many colors to it that you need to be a strong actor who can handle the dramatic scenes," Gordon said. "There were discussions with Eddie Murphy… Eddie Murphy is a great star, and I have no doubt he would be a great Richard Pryor. But Eddie Murphy is Eddie Murphy in the eyes of the audience. Marlon Wayans is a great actor and will be a great Richard Pryor, but he brings less baggage."
However, they already got Eddie's blessing to cast Wayans instead. "Eddie thinks Marlon will be wonderful in the role and he's given his blessing for Marlon to do it," Murphy's publicist Arnold Robinson said. "He's looking forward to seeing Marlon in the role." Apparently Marlon got the gig because he impressed Sony's Amy Pascal and Bill Condon with a "tape of him re-creating Pryor monologue material." If he impressed them then I don't think we have to be worried he can pull it off. I've actually got some faith in Wayans, I've seen him in Requiem for a Dream at least and he was great in that, so let's just hope he can pull this off.
I expect Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? to be a strong Oscar contender in late 2011, as long as they can put it together by then. I'm excited to see this, more because I want to see Pryor's story, and not as much because it's Marlon Wayans in the role. We'll just have to wait and see how he does, I guess. Sound good?