It appears that the long, long developing Richard Pryor biopic is finally coming to fruition. A film about the comedian’s life has been in the works for at least a decade, with Pryor himself involved in shaping the picture before his death in 2005. A number of different iterations have existed over the years, including one with Bill Condon directing and Marlon Wayans starring, but last year The Weinstein Company’s biopic gained traction as Precious helmer Lee Daniels signed on to direct.
Daniels’ involvement was soon followed by Mike Epps—who won the role in a previous version of the film—landing the lead role of Pryor, and things appeared to be moving forward quite smoothly this past spring when Eddie Murphy entered talks to play Pryor’s father. Now the film is officially coming together as Deadline reports that a greenlight is imminent from TWC with Oprah Winfrey joining the ensemble as Pryor’s grandmother, who raised Pryor in the brothel that she ran.
In addition to Winfrey’s casting, Murphy’s deal has been solidified and Kate Hudson has officially signed on to play Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor. Winfrey, of course, has a relationship with Daniels having starred in Precious and Daniels’ most recent Oscar play, The Butler.
Filming is now set to get underway next March, after Daniels wraps the second season of his hit Fox series Empire. He’ll be working from a script by Condon and his The Butler and Empire scribe Danny Strong, and given the casting we can assume that this will be more or less a cradle-to-grave biopic. The Butler felt rather stuffy for Daniels’ sensibilities, but I’m curious to see how the filmmaker’s work on Empire may impact his next feature, if at all. Regardless, this is one of those forever-developing Hollywood projects that looks like it just might finally get made.