Forest Whitaker is Now Trying to Get Richard Pryor Biopic Moving
by Ethan Anderton
March 29, 2013
For years and years, various directors and actors have been trying to get a biopic following iconic stand-up comedian and actor Richard Pryor, but none have stuck. From names like Martin Scorsese and Damon Wayans (who were trying before Pryor passed away in 2005) to Bill Condon and Marlon Wayans' most recent attempt before The Twilight Saga lured the director away, there have been plenty of iterations. Comedians like Eddie Murphy (who has an amazing Pryor impression) and Chris Rock were once linked to the project, but to no avail. Now Forest Whitaker is behind the most recent effort, but not as the star.
Whitaker is instead teaming with Jennifer Pryor, the late comedian's wife, to produce the film by way of the Phone Booth actor's Significant Productions banner. Whitaker will oversee development of a new script with input from Pryor's widow, and maybe this time it will actually work. Pryor has quite the eventful life that started with his youth, growing up in a brothel, to becoming one of the most subversive, controversial and legendary comedians of his time. However, as with too many entertainers who rise to fame quickly, easily accessible drugs became his downfall.
The question is, who has both the comedic and dramatic presence to make this performance shine, much like Dustin Hoffman's hailed turn as Lenny Bruce in the Best Picture nominated Lenny? My choices would be either Donald Glover or Michael B. Jordan. Glover has a strong comedy background in improv, sketch and stand-up comedy, and while we haven't seen him take on any dramatic roles just yet, I'm betting he has some tricks up his sleeve. On the other end of the spectrum, Jordan has stayed mostly dramatic with turns in series like "The Wire" and "Friday Night Lights" and more recently movies like Chronicle and the Sundance favorite Fruitvale (read my glowing review of the film and his performance here). Thoughts?