Murphy’s history with Pryor is well known, and the chance to emulate his icon on the big screen would have been an excellent dramatic role to follow his turn in Dreamgirls. Wayans, who had impressed a decade ago in Requiem For a Dream, has had the Scary Movie franchise to pay the bills while roles in the Coens remake of the Ealing classic, The Ladykillers, and G.I. Joe add a little spice to his filmography there’s not much to suggest how Wayans will approach the role of one of the most influential comedians of the twentieth century.
In an interview with the L.A. Times Wayans opens up a little,
He’s huge, there is so much feeling for Richard Pryor…It’s hard to be bigger than Richard Pryor. He changed comedy, and he did it in his own unique way.
This is like an invitation to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for me, and I’ve never been more excited in my life than when I got the role…I want to be in dramas, I want to produce, I want to write and I want to prove I can handle a role such as this one.
There’s a natural confidence to Wayans, but he seems aware of the enormity of the shoes he is stepping into. With the blessing of Pryor’s widow the project has been waiting for the right man to step up, and in Wayans producer Mark Gordon believes the move form Murphy to Wayans will benefit the final film,
There were discussions with Eddie Murphy . . . Eddie Murphy is a great star, and I have no doubt he would be a great Richard Pryor. But Eddie Murphy is Eddie Murphy in the eyes of the audience. Marlon Wayans is a great actor and will be a great Richard Pryor, but he brings less baggage.
Baggage like Scary Movie 1 to 4, Little Man and White Chicks? Wayans won’t let that hold him back,
Look, I want to be able to make the stupidest movies ever, because they make people laugh and they make money…But that’s not all I want to do. And I think I’ve proven to some people — the ones paying attention — that I can do more. Everybody else, well, they can wait and see and make up their mind.
The film will begin shooting in the Spring, and I can’t wait to see what will become of this one.