John Belushi is one of the great all-time iconic comedians. The SNL alum starred in comedy classics like ANIMAL HOUSE and THE BLUES BROTHERS before tragically dying of a drug overdose at the age of thirty-three. Since his passing in 1982 numerous attempts have been made to bring Belushi’s story to the big screen. At one time JOKER director Todd Phillips was attached to direct based on a script from Steve Conrad but he eventually passed. Conrad then took on directorial duties himself, eyeing such names as Emile HIrsch, Adam Devine, and even Joaquin Phoenix for the title role. That last bit of news was from October 2013 and for the last six years the project has languished in Development Hell – until now.
Broadway sensation Alex Brightman, who starred in the hit musicals SCHOOL OF ROCK and BEETLEJUICE, has just signed on to play the comic legend. The two-time Tony nominee will be guided by David Frankel (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) who takes over directing duties from Conrad. In addition, sources are also reporting that comedian John Mulaney (SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE) has been offered the role of Belushi’s friend and collaborator Dan Aykroyd. SECOND ACT star Annaleigh Ashford is also being eyed to play John Belushi‘s widow Judy.
The film itself also sports a sea of A-list stars as nearly a dozen celebrities including Lorne Michaels, Gilda Radner, Jack Nicholson, and Paul Simon all reportedly have parts in the script. It’s also important to note that the film has the full support of the Belushi estate as Belushi’s widow, Judith Belushi Pisano, will serve as executive producer. This is a far cry from the last time John Belushi‘s story was brought to the big screen. The 1989 film WIRED starring Michael Chiklis was denounced by Belushi’s family and currently holds a dismal 4% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I can’t say I know too much about Alex Brightman as I don’t tend to follow Broadway musicals. However, I did catch him singing a few songs from the Beetlejuice musical at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and I was suitably impressed. He certainly looks the part and you don’t get nominated twice for a Tony if you don’t have talent.
What say you guys? Are you excited at the prospect of a John Belushi biopic? How do you feel about the casting of Brightman rather than a big Hollywood name? Sound off in the comments below!