In Eddie Murphy’s stand-up classic Raw, the comedian reveals, “Richard [Pryor] is the one who made me want to do comedy. When I was young, I wanted to be Richard Pryor so bad I used to sneak in the basement, put his albums on, and just listen… I wanted to be Richard so bad, I used to go out on stage when I was 15 and talk and act and walk and everything like Richard Pryor.” With that admiration in mind, Murphy has been cast to play an unexpected role in the upcoming Lee Daniels-directed Pryor biopic: LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor, the comedian’s abusive father.
Entertainment Tonight reports that Murphy has been recruited to portray Pryor’s boxer father in the film, which will star fellow comic Mike Epps in the role of the legendary comedian. Daniels’ Instagram later confirmed that he and Murphy were discussing the role when he posted a photo with the caption, “Strap in and brace yourself. They done let me and him out of our cages!”
Pryor’s routines were frequently informed by his relationship with his father, whether it was a bit about LeRoy Pryor’s early and unusual death or a love of the sport of boxing that often worked its way into his comedy. Entertainment Tonight writes that Kate Hudson was also cast to play Pryor’s fourth (and, after divorcing and then remarrying, his seventh and final) wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor. Murphy and Hudson will join a cast that already features Oprah Winfrey in the role of Pryor’s brothel-running grandmother Marie Carter.
In February, Murphy, who placed Number Two on Rolling Stone‘s Saturday Night Live cast rankings, made his long-awaited return to the show that helped launch his career for the series’ 40th anniversary special. As Norm Macdonald later revealed, Murphy turned down a cameo appearance portraying the beleaguered Bill Cosby in the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch because he would not “kick a man when he is down.” Both Cosby and Pryor were influential figures on Murphy as he entered the world of comedy, as this clip from Raw shows: