Biopics of famed comedians have generally not been that successful either critically or commercially, but filmmaker Lee Daniels hopes to change that with the long-gestating biographical film about the late great Richard Pryor.
Mike Epps remains attached to play the controversial, brilliant comedian despite the numerous ups and downs the film has seen in development. Producer Bruce Cohen, speaking with Collider recently, says he still has every intention of getting the movie done:
“It’s one of the most brilliant scripts. Bill Condon did the initial draft and then Lee Daniels has done the rewrite and unfortunately, it’s hard to make the economics work in this landscape. It’s not a cheap movie: it’s period, it’s wide scope and it’s getting a cast together that gives you enough foreign value to let you make the movie. [That’s] the challenge.
The Weinstein Company and Lee and myself and Mike Epps, who’s been attached for a while to play Richard Pryor, all of us…as badly as we wanna make the movie, we feel even a little higher obligation to the subject matter, to do it right. So, we’re not gonna do it until we can do it the right way and I hope it comes together soon because it really is a project that needs to be made.”
Cohen says the film will focus on the entire span of his life, rather than target a specific point, and more importantly won’t shy away from the darkest aspects of the story. Pryor, like many successful comedians, was something of a tortured soul with plenty of his own personal demons:
“We are going ambitious and that is the pitfall of biopics I completely agree. This script has solved that the emotional arc of this script is so overpoweringly beautiful that it’s just one of those scripts where it’s like on what planet has this not gotten made yet. But it will, it’s going to, some way, somehow it’s going to get made.
We’re tackling it full on. The script is as dark, and raw, and sad, and scary in some ways but ultimately inspiring as well as a script can be. I wouldn’t say that’s really part of the problem because the financiers really they’re looking at the value of the film. They’re not concerned per se if something’s really dark, but we didn’t get any help from that.
If it was a romantic comedy it would be easier to get our funding together. You know if you look at Lee Daniels’ work, if you look at my work and certainly if you look at Harvey’s work, you know these are filmmakers who do not pull punches and that’s certainly the case here.”
At last report the film is titled “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?” and has the likes of Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Morgan and Kate Hudson linked. No word on when it will begin production let alone score a release.