The speculation has come to an end. Oprah has confirmed that she’ll be one of the leads in the long-awaited Richard Pryor biopic being directed by Lee Daniels.
Oprah will be playing Pryor’s grandmother, Marie Carter, who ran a brothel from the home in which Pryor was raised. Carter employed her daughter (the same woman who was Pryor’s biological mother) in the house of ill-repute.
Also confirmed to be in the film are Eddie Murphy, who will play Pryor’s father, Leroy “Buck Carter” Pryor, Kate Hudson, who will play the late comedian’s wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, and finally, Mike Epps, who will be playing Pryor himself.
Bill Condon and Danny Strong have written the script; the film is scheduled to start shooting in March 2016 when Daniels wraps up the second season of Empire on FOX.
This would make Oprah’s second film with Lee Daniels, after The Butler with Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo.
Epps ultimately beat out his competition, Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans and Nick Cannon. He was also cast for the role at an earlier phase of the project back in 2005 when Pryor was still alive and involved with the production. In an interview with Deadline, Epps said:
“I met Richard and felt like I was in Oz the whole time…It’s hard to describe what he means to me or any standup comic. You could say he’s paid the dues for everything we do up there.”
Pryor is frequently upheld as one of the most influential comedians of all time. Both Epps and Murphy have spoken at length about the impact that Pryor’s vulgar, yet socially conscious comedy had on their own careers.
Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986 and underwent triple heart bypass surgery in 1990. In 2005, he died of a heart attack in his Los Angeles home at the age of 65.