“The Next Friday” star shared a photo of himself rocking an afro and broomstick mustache to social media on June 23. The photo’s caption, “Richard ready,” lacked any context about what was going on but gave fans high hopes about what could be.
“All you need is that red suit 🔥🔥🔥”
“Man I thought that was Richard Pryor for real 🤣🤣🤣”
“That role made for you good luck”
A second photo posted June 28 further fueled hopes as Epps appeared to be on set in a trailer marked “Richard Pryor.” Epps, 50, has been gunning to play Pryor for more than ten years, but claims fighting among the Pryor family has made any real progress in production impossible.
“Nobody understood that it wasn’t just me doing Richard Pryor; it was walking into an estate that was confused,” he explained during a May 6 appearance on Fox Soul’s “Worth a Conversation.”
“It’s been a rollercoaster, man” he added.
Epps’ pursuit of his dream role dates back over a decade, but the first real rumblings of his chance to portray Pryor cropped up in 2015. At the helm of the project was “Empire” creator Lee Daniels, who would serve as director, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey was on board to play the late comedian’s grandmother, while Eddie Murphy was slated to play Pryor’s father.
Three years passed with no updates on if the film was moving forward. But, just like now, fans had hope when Epps was spotted with an Afro and shaved face. Supporters who raved about his appearance claimed to see a striking resemblance between Epps and Pryor.
Still, no movie or miniseries was announced. The most recent glimmer of a production was announced in October 2020. “Deadline” announced MGM had won the rights to a Pryor film and tapped “Black-ish” creator Kenny Barris as the writer and director.
“Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created,” Barris said. “To me, this is a film about the voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”
Pryor is arguably one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. His foul-mouthed humor gained him stardom during the 1970s and lead him to a successful film career in Hollywood. After suffering from multiple sclerosis for years, the comedian died at age 65 in December 2005.