Josh Gad Maybe Playing Roger Ebert in 'Russ & Roger Go Beyond'
At the end of last summer, it was reported that Will Ferrell was circling the role of soft core pulp fiction producer Russ Meyer in the indie project Russ & Roger Go Beyond, a film about he and film critic Roger Ebert teamed up to make the cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Now it sounds like producer David Permut has his sights set on an actor to play the late, iconic Ebert as Hollywood Elsewhere (via The Wrap) has learned that Josh Gad, Frozen voice actor and star of the upcoming comedy The Wedding Ringer, is being eyed to take the role, but there's no deal in place and Gad hasn't seen the script.
For those not familiar with the project, here's the official synopsis:
At the end of the 60’s when films like EASY RIDER and BONNIE & CLYDE were reaching new audiences, Meyer, the outlaw director of soft-core pulp films like FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL, KILL was given the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of directing a studio film by Richard Zanuck, then head of 20th Century Fox. The studio was struggling with a string of big budget failures and Zanuck thought Meyer was the solution. He offered him BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and Meyer agreed on the condition that Ebert, then the third string film critic for the Chicago Sun Times (who had written one of the few positive reviews of his work) would write the script. BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS became a struggle between the outsider filmmakers and the establishment studio's board of directors, particularly over the film's rating. Meyer, Ebert and Zanuck were ultimately vindicated when BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was released in 1970 to huge box office success.
Gad has mostly done comedies, but he's shown that he can get dramatic too with pivotal roles in Jobs (where he played Steve Wozniak) and 21, and since this film will likely be somewhere in the middle, this should be a great fit. There's certainly some resemblance between Gad and Ebert, even beyond the glasses, so this sounds like solid casting. However, we're still waiting to see who will direct the film from a script by Emmy-winning "Saturday Night Live" writer Christopher Cluess. When Ferrell was said to be coming on board the project, Edgar Wright was mentioned as being interested, but there's been no follow-up to solidify any involvement. This flick already sounds like it could be great, so stay tuned for more.