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The Pryor Life

JA from MNPP here again, taking a look at the news that no less than Lee Daniels is about to sign on to directthe long-gestating bio-pic of the comedian and actor and genius Richard Pryor.

Apparently Bill Condon almost made it a couple of years ago, but I guess that's fallen through since here we are. I was really looking forward to Daniels making his interracial gay action movie, possibly to star Alex Pettyfer, but I'm not exactly surprised that producers aren't throwing money at that.

And not only do we have a director, but we have a trio of names that're rumored to be up to play the troubled, brilliant comedian. Eddie Murphy, who's been considered for the role for as long as they've been thinking about making the movie really, is still in the mix, although if they want to focus on Pryor's life in his 20s and 30s that seems a bit of a stretch, doesn't it? Eddie Murphy is 52 years old.

Of course also in the mix is Damon Wayans, who's actually a year older than Murphy so what do I know. (Condon was considering using Damon's brother Marlon, and he makes more sense to me.) But I guess they've got that CG they used in the third X-Men movie to make Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen look young, they can just spend millions and millions of dollars using that. (I hesitate to even mention make-up since I thought the make-up Daniels used to age people in The Butler was just awful.)

I personally find the third name in contention the most appealing - Michael B. Jordan, hot off a great performance in Fruitvale Station, and buzzy as all get out. I don't see why Daniels doesn't consider David Oyelowo too though - he was my favorite thing in The Butler (granted, I didn't like The Butler).

So who would you cast? And what do you think about Daniels tackling not just Pryor but another bio-pic largely set in the Sixties and Seventies so soon?

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Reader Comments (21)

Brandon T. Jackson from Tropic Thunder

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Damon Wayans, Jr. is exactly the right age for the part and someone is considering his father?!?

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Jay Pharoah--SNL. Strong impersonations with depth and intelligence. Chris Rock has the edge. Pryor was so brilliant and could turn on a dime from comedy to tragedy.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Does anyone ever actually LIKE old-age makeup in movies? Seems the only time it ever gets mentioned in reviews is when people talk about how fake they thought it seemed.

Although, for the record, I thought the makeup in The Butler looked pretty convincing, so what do I know?

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael G.

It's rarely good and it almost always works better when you have two actors working together to coordinate the performance and, if their unadorned faces don't look similar, use some subtle make-up applications to try and meet both of the actors somewhere in the middle. Yes, I'm basically saying variants on the Looper angle are likely to be more reliable than extreme aging makeup.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

See, and I've always felt that casting two actors to play one character at different ages is usually much more disastrous than bad makeup, because it severs the emotional association you have with the character. Like, if thirty minutes from the end of The Butler, Forest Whitaker was suddenly replaced with James Earl Jones or someone, then I'd don't really accept, subconsciously, that Jones is actually "Cecil Gaines" at a later age. It demolishes all the work you do in establishing the character.

There are exceptions, but those are usually the unavoidable (children) or cases where the two ages of the character are essentially different characters entirely, like, in say, Big Fish, where Ewan McGregor isn't really playing the same character as Albert Finney, he's playing a persona that Finney's character imagines he once was like.

Does no one else feel this way?

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael G.

I'm fine with 2 actors playing the same character at different ages and am frankly shocked that has not happened with Jack and Leo.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Of the names mentioned here, Marlon Wayans would be the best choice: he could capture the hungry energy of a young Pryor, and the liberating cathartic performances in and around his freebasing incidents (where I assume most of the movie would take place). Wayans hasn't been in anything noteworthy in quite awhile, but his terrific work in Requiem for a Dream is something I'm sure Daniels would take into account.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I like the idea of Eddie Murphy but that probably has a lot to do with me feeling bad that Alan Arkin stole his Oscar.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Michael, I thought the casting in Big Fish was remarkable. McGregor and Lohman bear a striking resemblance to a young Finney and Lange. That made the film for me.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Whenever this discussion is had, I ALWAYS find myself arguing against casting a "name" talent to tackle the role of a known icon. This is no different. I mean this is a biopic on Richard Pryor, that'll sell itself, you don't need a name to get people to see it (case in point, "42"). Not to mention, if Daniels is attached, we know he has the ability to go out and find great potential talent. After all, he found Gabby Sidibe.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKBJr

CMG: Who do you mean by Jack? I mean, Nicholson IS retired, but wouldn't SLATER be the more obvious choice, at least aurally, for someone who ages into Jack Nicholson?

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Volvagia, I thought that was an Internet hoax about Jack.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Volvagia- Slater's Nicholson impression in Heathers was so embarrassing that such a casting would be as tone-deaf as having Branagh play Olivier. Leo actually has the brow and forehead to pull it off and a much more similar timbre in voice.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

All I care about is what role Mariah Carey is playing in the movie. <3

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSpidey

if lee daniels wants to objectify damon wayans jnr i might willingly sit through one of his movies

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Par, im rite there with ya! Woof.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I thought Lee Daniels interviewed a few months ago that his next pic would be Amy Adam as Janis Joplin. She's red hot right now and he's coming off a box office success, so if they both wanted it, not sure how that wouldn't happen. I'll be somewhat satiated if Daniels makes this with Jordan, but still feels like a downgrade.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrewB

Whomever is cast, the most important aspect is the comedy. Pryor was, as stated above, a genius. If the comedy doesn't work and feel effortless as his standup did, the rest won't matter.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Why Lee Daniels, why?

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I also think Oyelowo was best in show in THE BUTLER and I wish they could consider him for this such iconic role...but, anyway, I'm also curious to know which role Daniels is going to give to Mariah

January 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

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