Jason Priestley Is Directing a Biopic About ‘SNL’ Vet Phil Hartman

     December 3, 2015

phil-hartman-snlLet’s do an impromptu “then and now” of Beverly Hills, 90210 stars. (Trust me, it’ll be a little bit more illuminating than you think.) The last time I saw Shannen Doherty she was off doing commercials for Education Connect, Luke Perry is playing a detective on The Ties That Bind, Tori Spelling was off voicing a character on the children’s show Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Jason Priestley was working on a biopic of Phil Hartman, and…let’s go back to that last one for a second.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Variety reports that Priestley, who played sexy, looks-good-in-a-motorcycle-jacket hunk Brandon Walsh, is going behind the camera to direct a film about the Saturday Night Live vet. If that weren’t unexpected enough, the news also brings word that actor Daran Norris will portray Hartman in the film. Just a reminder, Norris voiced a number of characters on Nickelodeon’s The Fairly OddParents, including Cosmo, as well as Spottswoode in Team America: World Police. It’s a Fairly Odd assemblage to say the least.


The Hartman biopic is called Nice Guy Phil and will be produced by Tyler Levine (Real Time), while screenwriter Jonas Chernick (My Awkward Sexual Adventure) penned the screenplay. Levine told Variety that the film, which is looking to start production next summer, will “explore both the comedy and the emotional challenges that Hartman faced.”

While Priestley may not sound like an obvious choice to direct such a project, he recollected to the trade how he knew Hartman when he hosted SNL back in 1992 and the pair stayed in touch. On choosing who best to portray the comedian, he said he was referred to Norris by a friend. “He looks quite a bit like Phil and he’s an expert at voices.” Norris, in turn, reportedly campaigned pretty hard for the role, going so far as to make a video of himself voicing Hartman’s characters — which were vast.

Check out footage from Hartman’s SNL audition below:


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