Several years ago, Bill Condon was set to direct a biopic about comedian Richard Pryor with Marlon Wayans in the lead role. However, when Condon jumped to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—a move that will give him power in the long-run to get more personal projects made—the Pryor biopic languished. According to Deadline, the project has found new life with Forest Whitaker taking over to co-produce with Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Pryor. Forest will develop a new script in an attempt to finally bring Pryor’s story to the big screen. A biopic of the comedian has been attempted for years with black comedians such as Damon Wayans, Eddie Griffin, Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock all circling the role.
Hit the jump for why Whitaker’s film may finally get Pryor’s biopic in front of cameras, and the unlikely actor who could be a possibility for the juicy role.
Whitaker produced Fruitvale, which was the breakout hit of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and earned both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for the tear-jerking story about the last day in the life of police-shooting victim Oscar Grant. The Weinstein Company picked up the film, and will likely make a major push for it during awards season. If the movie picks up heat with mainstream audiences, then a Pryor movie can be sold on “From the Makers of Fruitvale” and/or “From Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker”.
Deadline also speculates that Whittaker might want to reteam with rising star Michael B. Jordan, who gave a powerful performance as Grant. In addition to their previous working relationship, casting Jordan would help keep the budget down, and the project could be sold on Pryor’s name since he’s one of the best and most influential comedians of all-time. The key difference is that unlike every other actor who was previously connected to a Pryor biopic, Jordan’s background isn’t in comedy. But he’s been incredibly impressive in not only Fruitvale but also The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and Chronicle. If he were to be cast as Pryor, it could launch him to the A-list.