When it was reported recently that Lee Daniels would be working with the The Weinstein Company in finally bringing the Richard Pryor biopic to the big screen, there was some hesitancy on how true this story was. After all, so many actors (Nick Cannon, Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans and Eddie Murphy) and directors (Bill Condon, Forest Whitaker) had been lined up to being part of the project, but no one been fully committed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, is producing the film. She brings to the project more than 50 pages of Pryor’s personal journals, which offer a glimpse into his brilliant, but dark, mind.
Then, Deadline and other outlets ran articles that Mike Epps had one hell of an screen test that landed him the coveted spot. When told by the site that he was chosen for the role by the producers, including the Pryor family, he stated, “I met Richard and felt like I was in Oz the whole time. It’s hard to describe what he means to me or any stand-up comic. You could say he’s paid the dues for everything we do up there.”
For anyone wondering if Epps can be serious in a film, take a look at his work in “Jumpin’ The Broom” and “Sparkle.” In both films, he played a non-comedic role and showed that given the opportunity, he can play a dramatic part.
Although The Weinstein Company had produced and distributed Daniels’ box office hit The Butler in 2013, Daniels has been in the trades lately, assigned to other projects such as “The Brian Banks Story,” the true story of a high school football player falsely accused of rape.
Now comes this latest instagram photo that Daniels shared from Oprah Winfrey’s account, which not only confirms Epps as his leading guy, but Winfrey’s involvement in the film. “And we’re off… Get ready y’all for #richardpryor@eppsie @oprah”
Whether she’s coming onboard as a producer or actress has yet to be specified. The pic was from the film’s first table read. Winfrey recently appeared in The Butler in 2013, her first role in over 15 years. She was also an executive producer on his Oscar nominated film, Precious.
Winfrey recently served as a producer to Helen Mirren’s The Hundred-Foot Journey and will later be seen on the big screen as civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper in Ava DuVernay’s MLK biopic, Selma. She’s also an executive producer on the film as well.
EW is also reporting that Winfrey will play Marie Carter, Pryor’s grandmother, who ran a brothel and had a complicated relationship with Pryor. Pryor grew up in a house of prostitution run by Marie, when his mother Gertrude walked out on the family when he was 10 years old.
by Wwilson Morales