Each year, we at Screen Rant take a look at the year ahead and the films we’re most excited to check out on the big screen. However, inevitably, some films come out of nowhere to become box office champs. Such was the case with Lee Daniels’ aptly titled Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
That film, which stars Forest Whitaker as the title character, went on to earn $167 million worldwide against a production budget of just $30 million, and in the process, it has solidified Daniels’ standing as a director to watch going forward. Now, we have new details on what his next project might be.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels is in talks to direct the long-in-development biopic about the life of influential comedian Richard Pryor. The Weinstein Company, which produced and distributed The Butler, will provide full financing for the new film. Jennifer Pryor, the late comedian’s widow, will also serve as producer.
A Pryor biopic has been in the works for years, but it seems that both Eddie Murphy and Marlon Wayans – longtime contenders for the lead role – are still very much on the studio’s shortlist. Both actors have long-standing comedy backgrounds and a certain amount of reverence for Pryor’s significance to the world of modern comedy. Furthermore, Murphy and Wayans have each turned in solid dramatic performances, the former as an Oscar nominee for Dreamgirls and the latter for Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.
However, in addition to those two names, Michael B. Jordan has emerged as a frontrunner. In recent months, the Chronicle star has been rumored (but not confirmed) for everything from Josh Trank’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot to the Independence Day sequel and even Star Wars: Episode VII. At 26, he’s far younger than the other two candidates, but his up-and-coming status may mean now is the right time for such a high-profile dramatic role, especially following his critical acclaim for The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station.
At this early stage, there’s no telling who may play Pryor in the film or even when it will hit theaters. However, it is expected to delve into the darker side of the comedian’s life, including a drug-related incident in 1980 that resulted in Pryor setting himself on fire. The project was once reported to be titled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, though there’s no word if that is still the working title.
Do you think Daniels is a good fit to tell Pryor’s story? Who would you like to see land the lead role? Sound off below with your thoughts.
Stay tuned for details on the untitled Richard Pryor biopic as this story develops.