Okay, this isn’t normally the way we do things. An actor gets cast in a role, and we hear about it from some trade magazine of glamorous and shining repute. But not this time. Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic looks to have just cast its lead, and we’re hearing the first news…on Twitter. But it’s Lee Daniels’ Twitter, so we’ll take that as slightly more legitimate than most.
Here’s the fateful tweet in question:
— lee daniels (@leedanielsent) August 24, 2014
I think it’s safe to assume that, were Stephen Spielberg to tweet “Get ready y’all- #Ryan Reynolds, #RyanGosling and #RyanSeacrest in #SavingPrivateRyan2,” we’d be inclined to believe him. If Saving Private Ryan 2 was real. And probably if he didn’t use the words “Get ready y’all,” which probably mean Lee Daniels has gotten a hold of Spielberg’s Twitter password.
Also, producer Oprah Winfrey threw in her own confirmation on Instagram, that she, Daniels and Epps had just finished a first read session for the film. True to Instagram form, the news came with a photo that was out of focus and had an ugly yellow filter slapped on it (does Winfrey prefer Sutro, Earlybird, or Walden? More importantly – who cares?).
But back to the news at hand. A film about Richard Pryor has been in the works for the better part of the 21st century, but Daniels’ name has only been attached as recently as January of this year. And since January, Daniels has had some tough work ahead of him: picking the actor that would represent Pryor onscreen. It can’t have been easy. Along with Epps, Eddie Murphy, Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans and Nick Cannon have been slap-fighting each other since January to land the role (other hefty responsibilities: lifting, counting and then bathing in the cash brought to the project by Winfrey).
Now, the decision has been made. And it’s probably for the best, given that Jordan is a little too young, Murphy is a little too old, Wayans is a little too Wayans-y and Cannon’s busy sucking the soul from the one decent thing he ever did with Drumline 2: A New Beat (also, let’s face it – Nick Cannon in Pryor’s afro/mustache combo is better suited to a VH1 awards show than an actual movie).
Sure, you could level the same criticisms at Epps that you could at Cannon: no real dramatic experience, unless you count movies where he smokes a lot of weed and/or is eaten by zombies. But Epps has been pushing himself away from those damn pothead zombies and towards something a little more dramatic. He went for a villain role in 2012’s Satin, and grabbed a supporting part in the “Forest Whitaker has crazy eyes, stabs people” film Repentance.
Also he played Richard Pryor in that Nina Simone biopic from last year (which, due to ensuing hate-filled legal snafus, will probably never be released). And is that not the best resume material of all?
Throw in that Epps allegedly blew Lee Daniels’ eyeballs out of his sockets (allegedly) with his audition tape, and we should have a Pryor biopic with a ready and willing faux Pryor. Rest easy, people. We can finally stop worrying about this one. Or at least stop worrying about the casting, and start worrying that Daniels and Winfrey are going to coat Pryor’s life in the same sugary glop that was all over Lee Daniels Is Legally Required to Present to You: The Butler.