While we have many very famous and – importantly – very funny black comedians with worldwide fame today, things weren’t always so easy for comedians of colour in an industry formerly dominated by mostly white men. But that all changed thanks to the breakthrough of a number of young black comedians in the 1970s and 1980s. And one of the most important to make his mark on the scene was Richard Pryor. Through his crude, self-deprecating humour and snappy delivery, the legendary Pryor became a household name (even landing starring roles in several mainstream Hollywood movies) and paved the way for a new generation of comedians, many of whom mimick his stylings to this day.
And Pryor’s meteoric rise to fame and wild personal life is now set to become the topic of a new biopic for MGM, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is set to write, direct, and produce the project. Barris will be teaming up with Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, to ensure the project gets a deeply personal touch though.
Barris revealed a statement expressing his admiration for Pryor and excitement to be a part of the project:
The way Pryor did what he did—with truth and specificity that was somehow self-aware and self-deprecating, and said with an unmatched level of vulnerability—that was the power and impact of his work. Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created. To me, this is a film about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.
Barris may have had great success in the television market and writing of recent big sequels for Shaft and Coming to America already, but this biopic will serve as his screen-directing debut. It is certainly a good project to get involved in and a story that should provide plenty of drama and laughs too, if done right.
Now that a creative team is in place of this film though, the question turns to who is going to play the role of Pryor. Eddie Murphy (who co-starred with Pryor on Harlem Nights and regarded the older comedian as his hero) was previously considered to play Pryor in a movie directed by Lee Daniels with Kate Hudson playing Pryor’s wife. That project has seemingly stalled though. But with Murphy now at 59 years of age, and Barris’ movie likely focusing on the early years of Pryor’s life, they will probably look for a younger actor for the role. Who do you think will best portray the role of Richard Pryor?
Last Updated: October 29, 2020