For better or worse, Marlon Wayans — he of "Little Man" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," among others — is going to play Richard Pryor in an upcoming biopic. Given his limited but praised dramatic experience, Wayans seems an unlikely pick for the part, but until we see some meaningful footage of the actor as the late comedian, it's not entirely fair to judge Wayans' merits just yet. Still, with production on "Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?" set to begin this fall, the time for judgment is almost at hand.
"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," Wayans told The Los Angeles Times about the upcoming film, which he begins shooting in the fall under the directorial eye of Bill Condon. "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."
The LA Times' article discusses Wayans' career path at great length, with the actor himself acknowledging that "White Chicks" isn't exactly the greatest indicator of what he can do as Richard Pryor — but don't mistake that for an apology.
"Look, I want to be able to make the stupidest movies ever, because they make people laugh and they make money," the actor defended. "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."
It's not just his past film choices that have some fans skeptical about Wayans as Pryor — it's the fact that Eddie Murphy, a close friend of the late Pryor's, isn't playing the comedian as so many had hoped.
"There were discussions with Eddie Murphy," said producer Mark Gordon. "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."
Apparently, Wayans' screen test for the role was "absolutely marvelous" and left no doubt in producers' minds that he was the right man for the job, and while he might not have the endorsement of all of Pryor's fans, he at least has the endorsement of Pryor's close friend.
"Eddie thinks Marlon will be wonderful in the role and he's given his blessing for Marlon to do it," said Murphy's publicist. "He's looking forward to seeing Marlon in the role."
"You need to be lucky in life, but it's also what you do with your luck," Wayans surmised of the opportunity to play Pryor. "I'm ready."
Tell us what you think of Marlon Wayans' casting as Richard Pryor and the film's fall start date in the comments section or on Twitter!