Tinseltown seems to really be hitting its stride when it comes to telling the story of iconic Black superstars. The N.W.A. big screen biopic Straight Outta Compton was a critical and financial success; the recently aired The New Edition Story broke ratings records and had fans and journalists gushing for days; and the early word on the upcoming Tupac tell-tale All Eyez On Me has been extremely positive.
Hopefully soon, Richard Pryor’s life story will get underway on film. And when Mike Epps--who has been tapped to play what many call the greatest comedian of all time--visited Drink Champs, he recalled to hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN his days with the legendary funnyman before his death.
“I went to visit him and it was amazing, man,” said Epps, who was asked to star in the film by Richard’s widow Jennifer Pryor. He compared his visit to the Pryor house to that of going to see Yoda.
“The only way he can talk is through his eyes,” Epps explained. “Just imagine you feel how you feel right now. You can talk it up, but you can’t move. You can’t express it. Only through your eyes. I might blink my eyes. If I don’t like something, I might roll my eye like, ‘F--k that shit.’ I had to read that. Some days I went up there, I could tell he ain’t want to be bothered. He was looking at me like, ‘Nigga, bye.’ I be like, he ain’t feelin’ it tonight. Some days I made him laugh. His wife said he ain’t laugh in years.”
Epps said that when he made a conscious effort to make Pryor laugh, it wouldn’t work. But that when he just relaxed and was being himself, Pryor would crack up.
“The maid walked through and she farted. Only me and him heard it,” he remembered. “She said ‘sprrrttt!’ His eyes looked over at me and I looked at him. I said, 'Damn, that ass sound like it been tampered with.’ I made Richard Pryor laugh.”
Named after his 1975 Grammy Award-winning live concert album, the Pryor biopic has officially been titled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? In October, it was announced by the Weinstein Company, who will be releasing the movie, that Jay Z had signed on as a producer.
“His story is an American story," Hov said at a press conference for upcoming Spike TV docuseries TIME: The Kalief Browder Story. "You'll understand how many lives he's touched. I mean, from every single comedian to rappers like Biggie Smalls."
Lee Daniels will direct and, in addition to Mike Epps, the movie will also star Kate Hudson as one of Pryor wives and Oprah Winfrey as his grandmother. No production start date has been announced but, back in October, Weinstein did say he hoped to get things underway in either January or February.
“It’s been a long road," Epps said. "It’s been a lot set, ready and no-go’s. It’s been a hlleuva process."