Considered by some to be the greatest comedian of all time, Richard Pryor was lewd, crude and absolutely brilliant — three reasons why he’d be the first to tell you that most of his movies, well, stunk. Now, Chris Rock is hard at work developing a biopic about the groundbreaking funnyman who paved the way for him, and he’s determined to make sure the Richard Pryor Movie Jinx stays a thing of the past.
“Marlon Wayans is going to play Richard Pryor,” Rock told us recently, giving us an update on the high-profile biopic. “And we are just waiting for the green light from the studio, pretty much.”
Over the last few years, there has been nearly as much drama around the movie as there was within Pryor’s roller-coaster life of triumphant highs and tragic lows. Hobbled by multiple sclerosis and on the verge of death, Pryor himself handpicked Mike Epps (“The Hangover”) for the part in the comedian’s final days. But four years after his passing, news broke that the film had never gotten off the ground with Epps and that Marlon Wayans would instead be playing the role in the movie, titled “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?”
“Marlon Wayans screen-tested for it, and it was amazing,” Rock said of why Wayans got the job, comparing his upcoming performance to what is largely considered Marlon’s best movie. “If you ever saw him in ’Requiem for a Dream,’ you know how dramatic he can be.”
Rock, who can be seen in front of the camera himself in the new film “Death at a Funeral,” is expecting the biopic to shoot this fall, and says that we shouldn’t let all the silly Wayans Brothers movies cloud our judgment before seeing what Marlon does with the role. “The cool thing about Marlon is he has different dramatic chapters of vulnerability about him,” Rock explained. “Richard Pryor was a very vulnerable guy.
“He always felt like he could burst out crying at any moment,” Rock said of the film, which he’ll produce. “It’s funny — [Pryor] was as confident as he was, but he was also kind of sad.”
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