I love Richard Pryor so much that it's been hard for me to imagine anybody adequately portraying the legendary comedian/actor in the planned biopic "Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?" I certainly didn't think Eddie Murphy was right for the role when he was set to play the icon awhile back. Nor did I like the idea of Mike Epps as Pryor. But I surprised myself with a very positive reaction to today's news that Marlon Wayans may star as Pryor in the film, to be written and helmed by "Dreamgirls" director Bill Condon.
Say what you will about Wayans' movie career, especially the lowbrow stuff he's co-written with brothers Keenan and Shawn ("White Chicks;" the "Scary Movie" series). The guy has shown us that he can act (in one film -- "Requiem for a Dream" -- at least), and he is great at being funny solely through facial expressions, just like Pryor was.
More importantly, according to HitFix, Wayans recently auditioned for the biopic and very much impressed Condon and other producers with the 13-minute-long screen test, during which he reportedly "transforms into Pryor." Entertainment Weekly, however, claims Wayans is already in "advanced discussions" to play the part. Again, to my surprise, I'm crossing my fingers that he gets the gig.
Interestingly enough, both reports also note that the film is no longer at Paramount Pictures. A conflict with the studio is what caused Murphy to drop out of the picture. Now Adam Sandler's Happy Madison is producing the film, which was written by Pryor and his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, and Sony is set to distribute. This would seem like good reason for Murphy to be interested again, yet hopefully everyone has realized that he's simply too old and doesn't look enough like his old friend, either.
Even though "Is it Something I Said?" will portray the life of a brilliant funnyman, and even though it's being produced by Adam Sandler's production company, the biopic is likely to be a very serious movie filled with themes such as race, hard drug addiction, suicide and illness. And for all that, be warned that the star of "Little Man" could very well earn an Oscar nomination if his Pryor imitation is as good as reported.
Do you think Marlon Wayans will do a good a job as Richard Pryor? What part of Pryor's life or career do you hope to see Wayans tackle most prominently in the film?