‘Hairspray’ Star Dances Toward Davis Biopic

When you see “Hairspray” next month, you might find yourself looking past Travolta, Pfeiffer and Walken and instead noticing up-and-coming star Elijah Kelley. As he sings, dances and steals scenes while telling the story of a black teen trying to overcome racism, it’s hard to not imagine him as a young Sammy Davis Jr. And if you’re thinking along those lines, you’re not alone.

“I want to play a certain gentleman that preceded myself in entertainment and music,” the actor — who until now is probably best known for last year’s Antonio Banderas flick “Take the Lead” — playfully told us this past weekend. Luckily, when we guessed that he was talking about the Rat Pack legend, Kelly coughed up the fact that he is indeed competing with several actors — reportedly including Andre 3000 — who want to be the first to get a Davis biopic on the silver screen.

“There’s talks about it,” Kelley said of his participation, building a race that could be reminiscent of the recent Truman Capote onslaught. “There are a couple projects going on right now.”

In actuality, Hollywood is currently kicking around at least three different scripts, all revolving around the Candy Man. Denzel Washington and Brian Grazer are behind “In Black and White,” a film based on a 2003 biography; the Outkast singer is working on “Sammy and Kim,” about Davis’ controversial relationship with caucasian beauty Kim Novak; and “Hairspray” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are working on a deal to land the rights for Davis’ 1965 biography “Yes, I Can.”

If that deal comes together, Kelley would likely re-team with his current producers to star in that final project, which is reportedly the only one to have the blessing of Davis’ widow. “[For] one of [the biopics], they want to pick his life, between probably 15 and 25. It’s what made him Sammy Davis Jr.” proclaimed the actor.

You can catch Kelley in “Hairspray” when it hits theaters on July 20. To watch a sneak peek, click here.