Move over, Nick Cannon. Mike Epps has secured the role of Richard Pryor in a Lee Daniels-directed biopic about the late comedian. Oprah Winfrey announced the news on her Instagram account when she posted a photo of herself, Epps and Daniels, saying, “Just finished a great 1st read session. #RichardPryorMovie.”
Daniels then confirmed the casting news on his own Twitter account.
Back in July, rumors started circulating that Cannon was up for the coveted role, but I guess they were all for naught.
“Here’s the thing. There have been a lot of people out there who’ve discussed playing this role,” Cannon told TMZ. “I never want to jinx anything because you guys know how movies work. If it’s not in production, it’s not real. So all I’ll say is that I’m doing the work right now. I’m doing everything that I need to do to embody it when the opportunity is right.”
Other actors in the running for the role included Michael B. Jordan and Marlon Wayans. But it is Epps who had been vying for the role since 2005, when he was chosen to play the comic in a previous biopic that never saw the light of day.
After the announcement, Epps was congratulated by fellow comic Kevin Hart. Even though the two have had several Twitter feuds, Hart offered his version of an olive branch:
As with most biopics recently, Pryor’s family members are not happy about their loved one’s life being depicted on the big screen. Richard Pryor Jr. has already threatened legal action against his stepmother, Jennifer Lee Pryor. Pryor Jr., who feels that she tricked his father into signing over the rights to his name, sent Lee Pryor a cease-and-desist letter demanding that production of the Lee Daniels biopic come to an end. In his letter, Pryor Jr. accuses Jennifer Pryor of using “illegal, fraudulent” activity to get the rights.
Although no release date has been set, the untitled movie is currently in preproduction.