I'm gonna be Rich

Epps lands role as Richard Pryor

Former Def Comedy Jam stand-up Mike Epps is to star as Richard Pryor in a new biopic about his life.

Pryor and his wife Jennifer Lee are producing the film, and are hoping it will generate enough profit to help the comic cope with his multiple sclerosis.

She told Hollywood trade daily Variety: “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.”

In a tribute event to Pryor at the weekend, Epps said: "It's hard to describe what [Richard] means to me or any standup comic. You could say he's paid the dues for everything we do up there."

Walter Hill, who directed Pryor in Brewster's Millions, will take the helm of the biopic.

An earlier attempt to bring Pryor’s chequered life to the screen under the auspices of Martin Scorsese never made it to production,

That version was developed for Damon Wayans, but Pryor wanted a lesser-known actor.

"The material is larger than life, and you need someone to fit into it who's not extraordinarily famous," she said. "Richard and I saw Mike's standup, and there is a dangerous edge, a Richard-esque quality about him.”

Pryor’s autobiography, Pryor Convictions, was released in the UK last week – click here to buy it at a £5 discount from Amazon.

Published: 17 May 2005

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