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Richard Pryor Biopic with Marlon Wayans is Shooting this Fall

by
February 22, 2010
Source: LA Times

Marlon Wyans / Richard Pryor

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?

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  • Wordage
    He's a good choice...he has the chops, though rarely uses them....but Requiem showed he has some range....and directed by Bill Condon....this should be good....
  • DEADPOOL,MERC WITH A MOUTH
    not sure if his the right choice.i must say how great stir crazy is, excellent stuff gene wilder & richard pryor.
  • jeffrey
    He would have been my first pic as well.
  • Matt
    Agreed, Stir Crazy is fantastic.
  • bud
    hey Jamie Fox came from In Living Colour too and knocked it out of the park as Ray, I think a lot of people will be surprised by how well Marlon does in this.
  • Xerxex
    I think he can pull it off.
  • David Banner
    Cut the title down to "Is It Something I Said?". "Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?" seem abit much, we know its about Richard Pryor. But does Marlon Wayans look like Richard Pryor? Guess if this is my only concern, I have high hopes for this flick? :)
  • Yekim
    How funny would it be if come 2011 or 2012 Academy Awards, you see this guy in the running for best actor. I could see it happen.
  • harrison
    if murphey wasnt a good fit then what is wayans? a terrible fit? he aint funny.
  • Branden
    Maybe you should put your faith in Nick Cannon because he was the black guy in The Killing Room, not Marlon Wayans. You n00b.
  • http://iconocritic.com peloquin
    Ah #10 beat me to it...wrong "token black guy" Alex...
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    #10/11 - Damnit, you're right. Wow, totally screwed that one up, sorry about that - just fixed it.
  • Have Hope
    sorry, this is just not a great choice. Yes, he may surprise us all but it will be a very shocking surprise. On the level of Ledger with Joker. Just cannot see it happening. HH
  • Nuika
    I think he's a good choice, he's has many variations to him but rarely gets to reveal them all. If you've ever seen Richard in his old movies you will see that Marlon is able to move like him naturally already. He is certainly one of the easier picks but the only thing I worry about is the way he speaks. Never really seen his voice take more than a few tones but then again he hasn't really been expected to do that. Anyway I'm sure Richard has a say so I'm confident in his choice.
  • Spider94
    50cent would have been a better choice for richard pryor.maybe then we could bring in lil wayne,nick cannon,jim carrey,and tom cruise for surporting roles. also if that happened the title woulda changed to Pryor:I$ It $omething I $aid.would have been more kooler.
  • Scott Lott
    I hope he's as good as he was in this. Racist! http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/whitechicks.jpg
  • wm
    wouldn't Murphy be a bit too old to play Pryor's young years?
  • http://mycastingcall.blogspot.com karine ohayon
    This will definitely be a make it or break it opportunity for Wayans. However, of all the Wayans, he has the talent to pull this off and well. Watch Requiem for a Dream, he is brilliant in it. He has the mix of drama and comedy and could be a strong leading actor after this role. Wayans definitely has the potential to do it and I'm glad he is getting the opportunity to!
  • salim
    10's comment is genius and should be applauded
  • david maldonado
    UPDATE!!!! Will Ferrel is in conversations to take the rol of Gene Wilder in Pryor's biopic!
  • jonny b
    way too soon.
  • http://www.appliance-world.co.uk/__Neff_Ovens.html Neff Ovens
    Honestly, I've never considered him to be a serious actor...

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