Mike Epps arrives at the 43rd NAACP Image Awards on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Actor Mike Epps is set to portray legendary comedian Richard Pryor in an upcoming film about jazz singer Nina Simone.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Mort wrote the script for the biopic, and the title character will be played by actress Zoe Saldana.
In the film, Epps will play Pryor, who opened for Simone during their rise to fame in the early ’60s. In her biography, Simone revealed that she consoled Pryor before his performances because he had stage fright.
Shooting for the film started this week in Los Angeles.
According to TMZ, Epps reached out to Pryor’s widow, Jennifer, before accepting the role.
“That was very sweet and respectful that he called me first,” Jennifer Pryor told TMZ. “I am happy that they picked him. He is a real good guy.”
She added that she’s now considering Epps to portray Pryor in a separate film based on the late comedian’s life.
Despite earlier reports claiming Eddie Murphy would play Pryor in the standalone biopic, Jennifer, who’s acting as a producer of the film, shot the rumors down. “He would want someone authentic like himself,” she said.