Epps to star in funnyman's biopic
“The Honeymooners” star Mike Epps has been tapped to play Richard Pryor in a feature film on the comedian’s life.
Walter Hill, who directed Pryor in “Brewster’s Millions,” will helm, and Caleb Kane (“These City Walls”) will pen the script.
Pryor and his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, are producing via their Indigo Prods. banner. Project had languished at Universal under Martin Scorsese and Harry Ufland.
She has exec produced the Pryor tribute special “I Ain’t Dead Yet Mother F*#*+rs” for Comedy Central and Showtime’s “Pryor Offenses.” Niles Kirchner will exec produce the Pryor pic.
Epps was among the speakers at Sunday’s tribute to Pryor at the DGA.
“I met Richard and felt like I was in Oz the whole time,” Epps said. “It’s hard to describe what he means to me or any standup comic. You could say he’s paid the dues for everything we do up there.”
Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986 and gets around in a wheelchair.
“We’re not wealthy, but we do OK,” she said. “The sickness is very expensive, and the revenue is definitely not what it used to be. I want to protect his legacy, and I’d like for Richard to experience this and see the result while he is still with us.”
The earlier incarnation was developed for another accomplished standup, Damon Wayans, but Pryor felt the film would benefit with an actor who hadn’t yet been stamped as a big star.
“The material is larger than life, and you need someone to fit into it who’s not extraordinarily famous or else it would be like Al Jolson playing Malcolm X,” she said. “Richard and I saw Mike’s standup, and there is a dangerous edge, a Richard-esque quality about him.”
Epps next takes on the role of iconic sewer worker Ed Norton in Paramount’s “The Honeymooners.”