Her casting is apparently old news, but we didn’t know anything about it – until today. I searched the S&A archives and found no mention of it; nor did I find any official announcement of her casting published on any of the standard industry websites. The revelation apparently came from Daniels himself, during an interview way back in February, which is where the trail I followed stopped.
But, yes, Taraji P. Henson is going to appear in Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic, playing his mother. Henson shared some info on the role in an October 16 profile/photo spread published on CRFashionbook.com (which is how I learned about it), stating: “I’m about to play Gertrude, Richard Pryor’s mother, in a Lee Daniels film. You will see her go from this young, beautiful woman who is a prostitute, to someone beaten down by life. She has no teeth, no hair – just a broken woman, everything taken from her. And I love her. I’m drawn to characters that scare the shit out of me because I know they are going to unearth something in me.”
Henson joins a cast that includes Eddie Murphy as Pryor’s father, LeRoy Pryor; Oprah Winfrey as Marie Carter, Pryor’s grandmother; Kate Hudson as Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard Pryor’s 4th wife; and, of course, Mike Epps in the starring role, as Richard Pryor.
Production is set to begin next March, as soon as Daniels wraps up the ongoing second season of his hit Fox series “Empire.” So I wouldn’t expect the completed 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. It’s set to hit theaters before the end of this year.
Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor film is set up at The Weinstein Co.