Lee Daniels in Talks to Direct Richard Pryor Biopic (Exclusive)
Lee Daniels is looking to get back into business with The Weinstein Company.
The director is in negotiations to tackle an untitled Richard Pryor biopic as his follow-up to The Butler.
The Weinstein Company, which produced and distributed Daniels' surprise hit about a White House butler, will fully finance the Richard Pryor project.
Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans and Eddie Murphy are among the actors being eyed for the film, which has been in the works for years with different actors attached, including Wayans and Murphy. Sources say both are still in the mix, particularly Wayans, who at 41 years old is considered to be the right age for the project and whose screen test is said to have wowed Harvey Weinstein.
But Jordan, who became a breakout star with The Weinstein Company's Fruitvale Station, has emerged as the front-runner to tackle the life of the iconic comedian, who died in 2005 at age 65. The question remains whether the 26-year-old can be aged up through makeup for the role, much of which covers Pryor when he was in his 30s.
Pryor, who was hailed as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time, also had a troubled side. In 1980, he set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine and suffered severe burns.
Pryor's widow, Jennifer Pryor, is producing the film. She brings to the project more than 50 pages of Pryor's personal journals, which offer a glimpse into his brilliant, but dark, mind.
Daniels' The Butler sparked a heated fight between Weinstein and Warner Bros. over the use of the title (Warner Bros.' library includes a 1916 silent short also titled The Butler). The Weinstein Company wound up changing its film's official title to Lee Daniels' The Butler. Despite, or perhaps buoyed by, the controversy, Daniels' period drama has earned $167 million to date worldwide.
Daniels is no stranger to gritty fare. His 2009 film Precious -- about a teenage mother living in poverty -- became an indie breakout, earning $64 million worldwide and several Oscar nominations, including best picture and best director for Daniels.
Daniels is represented by CAA.