A Richard Pryor biopic has picked up a new producer in acclaimed actor Forest Whitaker, who has developed a solid reputation behind the camera as well.
According to Deadline, Whitaker has teamed with the late comedian’s wife Jennifer Pryor to bring a biopic to the screen, and if it seems like you’ve heard of someone trying this before, it’s because you have.
Apparently, it was a passion project of Bill Condon, who once had Marlon Wayans attached in the starring role, Deadline noted. Condon left to direct Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and Breaking Dawn: Part 2.
Before Condon, it was Martin Scorsese behind the camera and Damon Wayans in front. (This preceded Pryor’s death of a heart attack in 2005.)
Eddie Griffin, Mike Epps, Chris Rock, and Eddie Murphy, had also been attached to other Richard Pryor biopic projects in the past for varying lengths of time, but now with Whitaker actively developing a script, it looks like the film could finally happen.
While filling Pryor’s foul-mouthed and often hilarious shoes will be no easy task, perhaps a greater challenge will be in finding the right child actor to play Pryor in his youth.
Anyone familiar with the life of the comedian knows much of what made him the comedy legend he became was due to a turbulent childhood.
His mother was a prostitute and his father an abusive pimp. According to the USA Today obituary of Pryor, he was molested at age seven and kicked out of school at age 14.
Shortly after his tenth birthday, he was abandoned by his parents and raised by an abusive grandparent, who also managed a number of brothels.
Unfortunately, the only child actor we’ve seen lately that has the kind of depth for a role like this is Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and that probably wouldn’t work since the nine-year-old is the wrong gender.
(Along with that intense role and some of the other crap she’s had to deal with thanks to The Onion, you’d have to wonder if the child’s parents would want to stick their daughter in a role like this one so soon.)
As for adult Pryor, one possibility that Deadline mentioned was Michael B. Jordan, who worked with Whitaker before on Fruitvale. We’d be okay with that or anyone else as long as it isn’t Katt Williams.
Who do you think should star in the Richard Pryor biopic, and are you glad to see this project finally moving ahead?