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Mike Epps To Play Richard Pryor in Nina Simone Biopic (Exclusive)

Mike Epps Richard Pryor Split - H 2012
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Pryor opened for Simone, played by Zoe Saldana, in the 1960s; pic begins shooting this week in Los Angeles.

Mike Epps will play Richard Pryor in Nina, the Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana.

Cynthia Mort wrote the script and is directing the drama, which traces Simone's ascent to stardom and her relationship with her Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo.

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In a supporting role, Epps will play Pryor, who opened for the singer when they two were starting out in the early 1960s. Pryor had terrible stage fright and Simone, in her autobiography, recalled how she regularly rocked him into calmness.

Mark Burton, Barnaby Thompson, Stuart Parr and Ben Latham Jones are producing the movie, which starts shooting this week in Los Angeles. Ealing Studios is behind the movie and handling foreign sales.

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Epps is coming off a lead role in Sparkle, Screen Gems’ musical that proved to be Whitney Houston’s last movie, and recently wrapped a gig in Warners’ tentpole comedy The Hangover Part III. He has the thriller Vipaka, with Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie, in the can.

Epps is repped by ICM Partners, manager Niles Kirschner and Morris Yorn.