Our last update on this project was in March, when director Lee Daniels hinted via his Instagram page that Eddie Murphy would be joining the cast of his Richard Pryor film, which Mike Epps is attached to star in, as well as Oprah Winfrey and Kate Hudson
The Weinstein Co. production will see Murphy play Richard Pryor’s father, LeRoy Pryor, Winfrey as Marie Carter, Pryor’s grandmother, and Hudson as Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard Pryor’s 4th wife.
This evening, Deadline is reporting that the above cast is officially set, and production is set to begin next March, as soon as Daniels wraps up the second season of his hit Fox series “Empire.” So I wouldn’t expect the film until some time in 2017; although, with a March principal photography start date, a late 2016 opening could be in the cards, as The Weinstein Co. makes an award season run with the film, so it qualifies.
I should note that Mike Epps actually plays Richard Pryor in Cynthia Mort’s still-unreleased Nina Simone film that Zoe Saldana stars in.
A rather gutsy choice by Daniels and company, I thought initially, to cast Epps in the starring role in their much higher-profile, likely Oscar-caliber film; this could be the dramatic catalyst that Epps needs to encourage producers to see him as more than a comedian/comedic actor.
Might we be calling him Oscar nominee Mike Epps next year or in 2017?
As an aside, it feels like it’s been a long time since we last saw Eddie Murphy on the big screen doesn’t it? I’m sure he’s comfortable financially, and isn’t exactly pressed to make new money by taking on almost every project that’s offered to him. So when Murphy does attach himself to a project, it immediately gets my attention. The last time we saw him on the big screen was in “Tower Heist” in 2011, 4 years ago. Although there was that terrible “A Thousand Words” which sat in limbo for years after it was made, until DreamWorks finally released it in early 2012 (it was made years before “Tower heist”) to overwhelmingly negative reviews and weak box office.
He seems to be getting back into dramatic form, starting with the upcoming “Cook,” which tells the story of the friendship between a young white girl and her dying mother, and their African American cook, in New Orleans. Bruce Beresford (who directed previous Oscar winner, “Driving Miss Daisy”), is directing “Cook” from a script penned by Susan McMartin. The film is based on McMartin’s own real-life story. You can read the shortened story which inspired the film here.
He’ll follow that up with Daniels’ Richard Pryor film.
So it’s officially a done deal. A Richard Pryor biopic, starring Mike Epps, Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy and Kate Hudson; directed by Lee Daniels; produced by The Weinstein Co.