For one reason or another, Richard Pryor biopics have been sitting in development hell for almost two decades. According to Deadline, Forest Whitaker is the latest director looking to spearhead production of a Pryor film. In the past decade Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and director Martin Scorcese have each been attached to a different version of Pryor's life story. The most recent rumor had the director of Twilight and Dreamgirls behind the project with Marlon Wayans slated to portray Pryor (0ther names floated around include Mike Epps and Eddie Murphy.) There was also an attempt by Showtime years ago that would have starred Eddie Griffin.
Fresh from producing the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner Fruitvale, Forest Whitaker has taken over the nearly 20-year effort to bring the turbulent life of stand-up comedy legend Richard Pryor to the big screen. Whitaker is teaming with the late comedian’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, to produce the film through his Significant Productions shingle. Whitaker will develop a new script with input from Jennifer Pryor, and Significant Productions’ Nina Yang-Bongiovi, will also produce.
Pryor had an unbelievable life, from growing up in a brothel, rising to become comedy’s biggest stage star, pushing the envelope on an edgy TV show that was subversive and ahead of its time, transitioning to film stardom, and nearly dying when he accidentally ignited himself while freebasing cocaine.
Of all the actors that have thrown their name into the hat, Mike Epps is the best fit because he closely matches Pryor's speech pattern. Looks don't matter as much,(ask Zoe Saldana) that's what makeup and CGI are for. Nobody knows how this will play out, but somebody needs to get this film rolling before Tyler Perry gets behind the camera, pens a script on Pryor's relationships and names it 'Why Did I Get Married Seven Times?"