Broadway star Alex Brightman will play John Belushi in an upcoming biopic about the late actor and comedian. After spending several years in development hell, the John Belushi movie (dubbed Belushi) now seems to be on track with its main star now officially attached to lead the project. David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) is also on board to direct, with Alexandra Milchan (The Wolf of Wall Street), Scott Lambert (The Terror), and casting director Bonnie Timmermann producing.
This will not be the first time an actor has portrayed the comedian in a Belushi biopic. In 1989, The Shield star Michael Chiklis played Belushi in his film debut for a movie called Wired. Directed by Larry Peerce, the "biopic" depicts Belushi waking up in the morgue soon after his death, then recalling some of the most significant moments from his life and career through the use of flashbacks. The movie was a disastrous failure both commercially and critically, bombing big time at the box office and has been universally panned by critics.
Additionally, many of Belushi's actual friends and family members boycotted the movie, and Chiklis later personally apologized to John Belushi for any hurt he had brought to the family by performing the part. Fortunately, the Belushi family will be a bit more hands-on with Belushi. The actor's widow, Judith Belushi Pisano, is expected to serve as an executive producer for the project. Belushi's Blues Brothers co-star Dan Aykroyd had also been among those boycotting Wired back in 1989, though it was reported in 2013 he would be exec producing a previous incarnation of Belushi that didn't quite make it off the ground. It's not yet clear if he is attached to this version of the project.
As for the other cast, many names are reportedly being considered for other roles. This includes Annaleigh Ashford as Belushi's wife and John Mulaney as Dan Aykroyd, though neither has officially been confirmed to be attached as of now. Reportedly, dozens of Belushi's other celebrity friends will be featured in Belushi as well, including Saturday Night Live boss Lorne Michaels, SNL co-star Gilda Radner, journalist Barbara Walters, and even the famous actor Jack Nicholson, who directed Belushi in the 1978 movie Goin' South.
Brightman is a two-time Tony nominee, known for his starring roles in School of Rock and Beetlejuice. He has also appeared in the Broadway shows for Wicked, Big Fish, and Matilda the Musical, also making guest appearances on the TV series The Good Fight and SMILF. More recently, he was cast for the upcoming Billy Crystal movie Here Today, which will star him alongside Crystal, Tiffany Haddish, and Louisa Krause.
A respectfully-made biopic about the comedy legend may be fun to watch, but we can all agree that no one person can ever replace John Belushi. There's no word yet on when the project will begin filming or when we can expect to see its release. Hopefully more updates will be here in the near future. This news comes to us from Collider.