Based on the above tweet from director Lee Daniels, as well as the Instagram post from Oprah Winfrey, I suppose we can now assume that Mike Epps has indeed beating out the competition and has been cast as Richard Pryor in a film that will be directed b Daniels.
And we can also assume that Oprah is involved in the as well, likely both in front of and behind the camera, as she’s done recently on films like "Selma."
Earlier this month, Nick Cannon all-but confirmed in a video interview with TMZ, that he would play Richard Pryor in Lee Daniels’ film.
Daniels has not spoken publicly about casting the project, until now, with recent reports saying that Mike Epps has actually been the front-runner for the job, after he reportedly blew Daniels and producers – The Weinstein Company – away with his audition.
Cannon, as well as Michael B. Jordan and Marlon Wayans (who was attached to star in the project before it changed producer hands), were also in contention for the part under Daniels’ direction.
Also, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway were said to both be in the running to play Jennifer Lee Pryor in the film.
I should note that Mike Epps actually plays Richard Pryor in Cynthia Mort’s Nina Simone film that Zoe Saldana stars in.
It’s also worth noting that, Richard Pryor’s son has threatened legal action in a move to block production on Daniels’ in-development film about the legendary comic. Lawyers representing Richard Pryor, Jr. have reportedly sent a cease and desist letter to Pryor’s (the father’s) widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is involved in the making of the film. The letter, obtained by TMZ, insists that all work on the project stop, accusing Jennifer Lee of using "illegal, fraudulent" activity to obtain the rights to her husband’s story. Pryor Jr. is also reportedly threatening to take legal action, if the biopic does moves forward.
No comment yet from Jennifer Lee nor Lee Daniels in response to the son’s statements, but, clearly, with The Weinstein Company attached, I’d say it’s moving forward, with Mike Epps in the staring role, Lee Daniels directing, and Oprah Winfrey involved in some capacity.
This could be the dramatic catalyst that Epps needs to encourage producers to see him as more than a comedian/comedic actor.
I should note that, last year saw the release of what was dubbed the definitive documentary on Pryor’s life, directed by Marina Zenovich (known mostly for directing the multiple award-winning 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired").
Jennifer Lee Pryor was also producer of the doc, giving director Marina Zenovich access to estate photos and other materials, as many of Pryor’s friends and family opened up for the project, which focused on Pryor’s transformation from successful but mild stand-up comedian, to successful but dangerous social critic.
Titled "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic," the doc was broadcast on Showtime last fall, as part of a new documentary series showcase titled "Closeup," which gives measured and complex looks at the lives of several notable public figures, with Richard Pryor being among the first to be "provocatively studied," as Showtime described it.
Stay tuned for updates on the Daniels/Epps biopic.