Eddie Murphy + Richard Pryor = Oscar?

Posted by · 9:45 am · February 27th, 2009

Eddie Murphy at the 81st annual Academy AwardsUPDATE: Condon apparently has said he wants an August 2010 release for the film and Fox Searchlight has agreed to it.  See note below regarding Condon’s desire to stay away from anything resembling an Oscar season.

EARLIER: I’ve known about Eddie Murphy being attached to Bill Condon’s Richard Pryor movie for weeks but, you know, you kind of have to keep quiet with secrets in this town and watch the news be broken elsewhere.  David Poland seems to think this is Eddie Murphy’s Oscar power play without offering a shred of copy to the fact that one of Condon’s stipulations when it came to this film is a release date far away from the Oscar season fray, which left the director dizzy and probably disenchanted during the 2006 run for “Dreamgirls.”

Anyway, I wasn’t immediately interested in the casting decision but I think it’ll be intriguing to watch Murphy work through this character.  He and Pryor were close friends, of course, so it’s almost serendipity.  Anyone here as into “Harlem Nights” as I am?  A late-80s classic.  And I love Murphy’s bit in “Raw” (or was it Delirious?”) when he talks about Bill Cosby taking umbrage with his use of foul language in his bits.  He called Pryor, a little upset, and Pryor said, “Tell Bill Cosby I said suck my d—.”  The emphasis on the “my” is intentional, another layer of the joke’s humor — cracks me up every time.

But back to Condon and Oscar.  I’m sure Fox Searchlight will be a wonderful home for the project, but seriously, a late summer release is the kind of thing the director has in mind.  None of this October, November, Oscar glut stuff.  Maybe the studio can change his mind but I doubt it.  Anyway, I’m quite looking forward to the film, which has been thoroughly researched by Condon for the last two years and should be a wonderful lasting impression of one of the greatest comedians of all time.

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10 responses so far

  • 1 2-27-2009 at 9:51 am

    Loyal Mehnert said...

    The reaction across the internets, seems to be pretty negative. I didn’t realize Murphy had pissed off so many.

    New bit about the release date though, thanks for that.

  • 2 2-27-2009 at 10:34 am

    Virginia MegamillionsLottery said...

    I don’t think so!

  • 3 2-27-2009 at 10:57 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    It’s brave casting in a way, because it’s so very on the nose. It might be a little difficult to assimilate Murphy’s own very familiar comic persona with that of Pryor, which is hardly similar. I’m not sure it’ll work, but it’s interesting.

    That said, I repeat my call for a moratorium on Oscars for biopic performances. At least they’re not baiting with this one.

  • 4 2-27-2009 at 11:23 am

    kmoore8435 said...

    Again, people need to stop all this crying and whining. Murphy does a great Pryor impression, will that translate into a great performance remains to be seen. What people cannot deny regardless how many people he has “pissed off” is that he is a terrific actor. Watch his performance in “Dreamgirls” and the 1st “Nutty Professor”…he is excellent. I feel he should have been nominated for the Klump portrayal and still feel he should have won for Jimmy Early.

  • 5 2-27-2009 at 11:46 am

    Mikey Filmmaker said...

    This could be very interesting. I think Murphy could do a decent job.

  • 6 2-27-2009 at 6:01 pm

    Speaking English said...

    That picture is really confusing me. I don’t remember ever seeing Murphy with an Oscar?

  • 7 2-27-2009 at 7:20 pm

    Neel Mehta said...

    SE: That’s the Oscar he was presenting to Jerry Lewis last week.

    I’m not seeing Eddie Murphy as Richard Pryor. I think the idea of an actor portraying his mentor sounds dicey, though I can’t come up with any specific examples of it happening.

    At the same rate, I can’t think of an actor that feels right for this biopic. A non-comedian actor would make more sense. Don Cheadle, maybe, but I’m not in love with that suggestion either.

  • 8 2-28-2009 at 3:35 pm

    Silencio said...

    I am thoroughly excited for this, and had actually been hoping for this exact casting scenario for some time. It’s perfect. Pissing people off didn’t stop Mickey Rourke, did it? I believe Murphy can nail this. There’s no way he would sleep on an opportunity to honor Pryor.

  • 9 2-28-2009 at 5:16 pm

    John K said...

    Put me in the “brilliant casting” camp. I’m no big Eddie fan, but the man has shown flashes of ridiculous talent. And remember how lightly-regarded Jamie Foxx nailed the opportunity to honor one of his heroes? Same thing here, except Eddie Murphy is a much better actor than Foxx.

    Hell, I remember when MIKE EPPS was rumored to play Pryor. No matter how you feel about Murphy, I think we can agree than we all lose when we have to spend a little extra time with Mike Epps.

    And Guy, if you want a moratorium on biopic performances, I wouldn’t count on 2010. Tentatively, we have Liam Neeson as Lincoln, Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Roosevelt, and now Murphy as Pryor. Plus, Wesley Snipes is set to play James Brown if the IRS doesn’t jail him first. That’s like a murderer’s row of biopic subjects – Lincoln, Teddy, Pryor, and the Godfather of Soul – and that’s not even counting the biopics of Steve McQueen and Ernest Hemingway also in the works.

    Seriously, if any other actor wants to compete in 2010, they better get a Jimi Hendrix or Freddie Mercury project off the ground, pronto.

    (On a related note, I’m kind of curious to see what Kristen Stewart does as Joan Jett.)

  • 10 9-23-2009 at 1:39 pm

    RWRIGHT said...

    Eddie Murphy would make a great Richard Pryor, Omar Epps would sale more tickets at the box office. Omar Epps would make a better Richard Pryor then Eddie Murphy.