He may just be publicly campaigning for the part; clearly he’s very interested, BUT he does seem to all-but say that Lee Daniels wants him for the part, and it may just be a matter of key pieces coming together before an official announcement is made.
Time will tell.
It’s a project that’s long been in development, with a number of different names attached (both in front of and behind the camera) over the years; A year ago, the news was that the project had changed hands yet again, as Forest Whitaker took over as producer (this came shortly after the huge success of "Fruitvale Station" at the Sundance Film Festival last year – a film he produced).
And then 12 months later, in January of this year, it was announced that Lee Daniels had moved into the director’s seat for the project.
Also, The Weinstein Company, who produced and distributed Daniels’ last film, the blockbuster drama "The Butler," came on board to back this project as well – a Richard Pryor biopic that’s been in limbo for years, most recently, with Marlon Wayans attached to star, and Chris Rock producing, alongside Adam Sandler.
Up until today’s reveal, Wayans was apparently still in the mix (as of our last report in January, anyway), with Michael B. Jordan, and Eddie Murphy also both said to be on the short list.
Now we can add Nick Cannon, who all-but confirms in the video interview below, that he will play Richard Pryor Daniels’ film.
Cannon initially stirred up rumors of his involvement, via his Instagram page earlier this week (sharing several photos of Richard Pryor solo, as well as the one at the top of this post, comparing his look with Pryors), and, in the video below, is asked about those rumors during a Wednesday appearance on TMZ Live.
"Here’s the thing. There have been a lot of people out there who’ve discussed playing this role," he said, adding "I never want to jinx anything because you guys know how movies work. If it’s not in production, it’s not real. So all I’ll say is that I’m doing the work right now. I’m doing everything that I need to do to embody it when the opportunity is right."
He then added that he’d been working directly with director Lee Daniels on prepping for the role, stating, "I’ve definitely sat with Lee, who’s a close friend, and we actually worked quite a bit on getting it right." Getting what right, he doesn’t get specific, defending his ambiguity by sharing that he’s too superstitious to confirm or deny anything, and doesn’t want to jinx any opportunity.
To cloud things even further, when he was asked to tip his hat if the TMZ Live hosts were wrong about him playing Richard Pryor, Cannon did NOT, and would only flash a big smile.
So take all that for whatever it’s worth.
The project is being made with input from Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, so, I suppose we could say that this won’t be one of those troubled biopics made without the approval/blessing of the subject’s family.
Although, if there’s suddenly some objection from someone we don’t know of yet, I won’t be surprised, given recent biopic project hold-ups.
But no word on whether Whitaker is still involved in a producer capacity. We can assume so for now, until we hear otherwise.
Last year saw the release of what was dubbed the definitive documentary on Pryor’s life, directed by Marina Zenovich (known mostly for directing the multiple award-winning 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired").
Jennifer Lee Pryor was also producer of the doc, giving director Marina Zenovich access to estate photos and other materials, as many of Pryor’s friends and family opened up for the project, which focused on Pryor’s transformation from successful but mild stand-up comedian, to successful but dangerous social critic.
Titled "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic," the doc was broadcast on Showtime last fall, as part of a new documentary series showcase titled "Closeup," which gives measured and complex looks at the lives of several notable public figures, with Richard Pryor being among the first to be "provocatively studied," as Showtime described it.
So now we wait for an official announcement of the scripted feature film’s casting.
Watch Cannon’s TMZ interview below: