Updated: Damn. Emile Hirsch has been cast as John Belushi in Steve Conrad’s untitled Belushi biopic. Certainly adventurous casting and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. According to a press release production is expected to begin in Spring 2014 in New York.
In the world of forever-developing biopics, a movie about John Belushi remains one of the holy grails of sorts. In the works for years, last we heard, Todd Phillips and writer Steve Conrad (“The Weather Man,” “The Pursuit of Happyness“) were working on it with “The Hangover” filmmaker to direct, while names like Zach Galifianakis, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Ethan Suplee and Tyler Labine (who played Belushi in the 2005 TV movie “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy“) were all named as considerations/wishlist types, but the project never went anywhere. Now, it’s back.
THR reports that Conrad, hot off “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” is now gearing up to direct the project, with some fresh names tossed into the maybe-will-be-Belushi pile. Emile Hirsch and Adam Devine (“Workaholics“) have both met with Conrad, while the most tantalizing prospect, Joaquin Phoenix, has also “surfaced” as a contender, though we have no idea what that actually means. Meanwhile, someone is going to have to play Belushi’s pal Dan Aykroyd, and character actor Nelson Franklin has also apparently met for the part.
But like so many biopics, it’s a long way from revived interest to actually getting money and shooting the thing, and as lively as Belushi’s public and private life were, in this era of four-quadrant sure things, we don’t see a major studio taking a gamble on something like this (particularly one that will be harder to sell overseas). That said, Warner Bros. is behind this one, and a spring 2014 shoot is being eyed, so maybe this one will have the right kind of budget to get a thumbs up from execs. But we’d guess it’ll all boil down to who nabs that lead role.
Thoughts? Hirsch, Phoenix, or someone else entirely? Let us know below.