After years of starts and stops, director Lee Daniels has finally gotten the green light on his biopic, Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? The main cast has been confirmed, with previously announced actors Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy and Kate Hudson still attached. New to the cast is Oprah Winfrey, who has long been attached as a producer. The movie will shoot in March, after Lee Daniels has wrapped on Empire Season 2. The Weinstein Company is producing.
Mike Epps is officially locked to headline Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, starring as the iconic comedian. Eddie Murphy is playing Richard's father Leroy 'Buck' Pryor. Kate Hudson is starring as Richard's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor. Oprah Winfrey is set to play Pryor's grandmother, who is infamous for running a brothel while raising Richard.
Lee Daniels worked with both Oprah Winfrey and The Weinstein Company on his blockbuster smash Lee Daniels' the Butler, which held consecutive #1 weekends at the box office when it was released in August 2013. Bill Condon, who is currently directing the live-action movie Beauty and the Beast for Disney, collaborated on the screenplay with Danny Strong, who works with Daniels on Empire. Bruce Cohen and Jennifer Lee Pryor are both involved in the creative process, serving as consultants and producers.
Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? will not only look at the comedian's life on stage, but will also focus on some of the more compelling aspects of Richard Pryor's past, tracking his rise and fall from the time he was born until the time of his death. The beginning of the movie will focus on Pryor's grandmother Marie Carter as she raises her grandson around a group of prostitutes that included his own biological mother. This is also where Eddie Murphy will play a prominent role, as the movie delves deep into the comedian's upbringing.
Mike Epps has long ties to the project. The comedian emerged as a front runner for the role in 2014 after he delivered an audition that is said to have floored Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and the rest of the creative team. Other actors competing for the role at that time included Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans and Nick Cannon. Mike Epps and Marlon Wayans had both won the role at various times in past incarnations that never moved forward.
Marlon Wayans was set to play Richard Pryor in a Sony produced version of the biopic which had Bill Condon attached to direct. Adam Sandler's Happy Madison was producing. Mike Epps was first set to play the role over a decade ago, way back in 2005. At the time, Richard Pryor was still alive and was helping to create the movie. He was also a supporter of Mike Epps, with the film being produced through Pryor's Indigo Productions alongside his wife. At the time, 48 Hours director Walter Hill was set to co-write and direct. About his long road to making Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? become a reality, Mike Epps had this to say.
"I met Richard and felt like I was in Oz the whole time. It's hard to describe what he means to me or any stand-up comic. You could say he's paid the dues for everything we do up there."
Jennifer Lee Pryor has been with every incarnation of the project, and fully supports Mike Epps playing her husband. What do you think of this incredible cast that is bringing Richard Pryor's story to the big screen? It has to be better than 1986's Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, which had Richard Pryor playing a loose version of himself.