Adam Devine, Emile Hirsch or Joaquin Phoenix in John Belushi Biopic?
Over three years ago, it was revealed that Old School and The Hangover director Todd Phillips was going to produce and direct a biopic about late comedian John Belushi with a script from Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), but we haven't heard anything since then. Now the project has life again, but Conrad will step up to make this his sophomore directing effort following The Promotion in 2008. In addition, Conrad is already looking for an actor to bring the large than life comedian to life, having met Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer, Into the Wild) and "Workaholics" star Adam Devine.
THR also reports Joaquin Phoenix might also be in the mix, but there isn't a frontrunner out of the group just yet. Hirsch and Phoenix are interesting choices since they haven't taken on much comedy in their career. Hirsch has early work like The Girl Next Door and his recent turn in David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche with Paul Rudd, but that's about it. Meanwhile, Phoenix has only gotten mildly funny early in his career with Parenthood and Buffalo Soldiers over 12 years ago, however, we don't doubt that he can disappear into the role if given the chance.
The outlier and potential top gun could be Adam Devine. The charismatic comedian is pretty rambunctious and over-the-top in his series "Workaholics" and the movie Pitch Perfect, so it's hard for us to picture him doing the dramatic side of Belushi's life, but maybe he's got some raw dramatic talent brewing under his comedic chops. We still think that someone like Tyler Labine, Bobby Moynihan or Jonah Hill would be good, but maybe going with someone who isn't know for comedy is the better move to avoid that kind of comparison. Either way, these are some big shoes to fill.
Conrad is also looking at actors to play Dan Aykroyd, who was Belushi's best friend and frequent collaborator. They starred in "Saturday Night Live" together and also teamed up on the big screen with Blues Brothers and 1941. Right now Nelson Franklin (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, "New Girl") is the only name mentioned for the role, but Conrad is meeting with several actors. Aykroyd is an integral part of Belushi's story, as evidenced in the source material, the 2005 biography Belushi, formed with the loving hands of widow Judith Belushi Pisano. With loving memories from friends and colleagues like Aykroyd, the book chronicles the highs and lows of John Belushi from his youngest comedic exploits through his unbelievable star-making success in films like The Blues Brothers and Animal House. We'll keep you posted.