Lee Daniels has not-so-quietly made himself a force to be reckoned with. His 2013 film The Butler was nominated for a slew of awards, and took home five trophies that year as well. The Fox TV series he co-created, Empire, is a smash that has everyone talking. So what’s the filmmaker doing with his newfound clout? Getting a long-gestating big screen biopic of legendary comedian Richard Pryor off the ground, and doing so in style.
It’s just been announced that Daniels has lured Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Epps, and Kate Hudson to star in the film- which will chronicle the comic’s fascinating life. Many moons ago, Murphy- who holds Pryor in extremely high regard- would’ve been the man many would’ve pegged to play him. Now 54, he’ll be playing Pryor’s father Leroy “Buck Carter” Pryor. Winfrey will play the comedian’s grandmother, whoraised Pryor while running a brothel. Hudson will play Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, and Epps will play the man himself. Epps, a former stand-up comedian himself, is known for his roles in raucous comedies like Next Friday and The Hangover.
Epps has been linked to the film in some form since 2005, when he had a stellar audition and was able to get to know Pryor months before the legend’s death. Pryor, at the time, was involved in the production of the film- which would later lose its footing. Now 10 years later, the production is said to be gearing up to start in the coming months, with primary filming beginning in March. The film is being written by Daniels’s Empire collaborator, Danny Strong, and Bill Condon. Condon’s previous writing credits include films like Gods and Monsters, Chicago, and Dreamgirls.