Fans of the late, great Richard Pryor will find their cornflakes tasting a little sweeter, because director Lee Daniels has named Mike Epps as the leading man for his planned biopic of the X-rated comic.
As if to make the news official, Epps has been pictured kissing the ring of Jennifer Lee, Pryor’s widow.
This all stems from when both she and Pryor nominated Epps to play the part if they were to ever make the biopic themselves. Coincidentally, The Hangover star played Pryor last year in an as yet unreleased movie about Nina Simone. For now, however, the untitled Daniels project is well and truly up and running.
Despite this, Epps wasn’t exactly the obvious choice. A host of black American comedy stalwarts – all of whom count Pryor as a huge influence – were up for the role. Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Marlon Wayans had all been tipped, but Daniels ended up going for a less familiar name.
One member of the cast that needs no introduction is chatshow queen and entertainment entrepreneur, Oprah Winfrey. Having looked at the script in her other capacity as co-producer for the film, she fell in love with the idea of playing Pryor’s grandmother, Marie Carter. Daniels, who collaborated with her for The Butler, had no hesitation in handing her the part.
Carter ran a brothel in which Pryor’s mother, who abandoned him as a youngster, was a prostitute. Carter was then left to raise him and was extremely violSourcesent. Although Pryor went on to forge a glittering career, this volatile upbringing left him with demons that he never truly banished. Yet undoubtedly, infamous stand-up routines, a string of successful movies, as well as writing credits for films such as Blazing Saddles, all add up to a golden legacy.
To quote Daniels’ instagram post: ‘And we’re off… Get ready y’all for #richardpryor.’