Word leaked last month that director/producer Todd Phillips (The Hangover) is developing a film based on the life of late comedian John Belushi. While at this early stage he wished the project was still under wraps, Phillips talked a bit about his approach to the material.
“Our goal is not to do a traditional biopic approach with it that people expect, whether you’re talking about Walk the Line or Ray. All good movies, but our goal is not to make that typical biopic. We want to make a movie that, if John Belushi saw it, he would be happy that it captured his spirit. Sometimes I feel that they don’t entirely capture the spirit of the person they’re about. Our goal is to capture the spirit of Belushi, not necessarily make a straight-ahead biopic.”
Sounds noble enough to me. Hit the jump to hear more of what Phillips had to say on the matter.
Philips elaborated on what he means by eschewing the “typical biopic” to MTV:
“There are a lot of ways to interpret it. One of the reasons I’m being a bit vague is because we haven’t nailed it yet. It’s in early stages. I’m really talking about the very television-narrative approach that a lot of biopics take. We don’t want to do that. We’re trying to take a very renegade approach to who I think was one of the most renegade comedy actors of all time.”
According to Phillips, the project is in its “very nascent stages.” Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness) is currently working with Phillips on a script treatment, which takes precedence over pondering who is capable to play Belushi on screen:
“It’s about nailing the script down at this point. If it’s a new face or if it’s someone people are familiar with, we haven’t figured that out yet. It’s not even so much about nailing down the script as the renegade approach to a renegade actor.”
Lord knows the larger-than-life Belushi will be a tough role to cast. Phillips has demonstrated a fondness for relative unknowns on other projects, and that may be the way to go here. A 24-year-old Michael Chiklis (The Shield) played him in the 1989 attempt Wired, which apparently failed to fulfill the potential inherent in a Belushi biopic. Phillips should be up to the challenge, given his comic sensibilities, his willingness to explore the dark side of the story. Here’s hoping.