Actor and funnyman Mike Epps has been confirmed as the lead in director Lee Daniels’ upcoming Richard Pryor biopic.
Rapper/actor Nick Cannon was previously linked to the title role, but on Sunday moviemaker Daniels posted a picture of himself, Oprah Winfrey and Epps on Instagram.com captioned, “and we’re off… Get ready y’all for #richardpryor @eppsie @oprah.”
TV titan/actress Winfrey has been tapped to play Marie Carter, the grandmother with whom Pryor had an extremely complicated and strained relationship with. Carter ran the brothel where the funnyman grew up, and where his mother Gertrude also worked as a prostitute, but left her family behind when he was just 10.
Winfrey and Daniels previously collaborated as co-executive producers of “Precious” in 2009, and he directed her in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” last year.
The untitled project has been in the works since 2009, with actor Forest Whitaker attached to help bring Pryor’s life story to the big screen. He signed on to write the script and also produce the film in March, although it is not known if he is still linked to the movie.
Adam Sandler and director Bill Condon were also previously involved in the project before it was shelved in 2011.
Meanwhile, Richard Pryor, Jr. has sent a cease and desist letter to the comedian’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is contributing to the film biopic, urging her to stop work on the project amid a dispute over rights.
Pryor, 65, died in 2005 after suffering a heart attack. He spent years battling multiple sclerosis prior to his death.