Eddie Murphy to play Pryor?

New biopic planned

Eddie Murphy has been lined up to play Richard Pryor in a new biopic about the influential comic.

Writer-director Bill Condon is trying to persuade Hollywood studios to make the movie, with Murphy ‘attached’ to play the lead role.

According to America’s Entertainment Weekly, Fox Searchlight is ready to pick up the $25 million film, entitled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?

If all goes to plan, filming will start this summer ready for release in 2010.

Condon wrote Dreamgirls and the screenplay to the movie version of Chicago, as well as producing this week’s Academy Awards.

Prior’s life had plenty for film-makers to draw upon: Born in his grandmother’s brothel where his mother was a prostitute, he became a stand-up icon for his uncompromising material, until his multiple sclerosis made it impossible to perform. But he was just as infamous for his drug use, which hit a low when he set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine in 1980.

His last wife, Jennifer Lee, was trying to get her own biopic off the ground in 2005, just months before Pryor’s death, with former Def Comedy Jam stand-up Mike Epps as star.

She said at the time: ‘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 material is larger than life, and you need someone to fit into it who’s not extraordinarily famous.’

Published: 27 Feb 2009

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