Biopicky: Who Will Do Belushi, Mercury, and Other Icons Justice On Screen?

From Schindler’s List and Raging Bull to Ray and Walk the Line, biopics have become a staple in the film industry. When done right, they can be some of the best pictures, but due to their true life subjects they are often the most contentious projects. The portrayal and directing determine the ultimate The Kings Speech level success (Won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor), or Amelia level failure (Panned, and earned less than half it’s $40 million budget in the box office).

(See some of the best transformations here on Huffpost.)

In the vein of Ray and Mandela, biopics about famous black icons are certainly a trend. Here’s a list of some in production, and others in talks, to portray some beloved and some complicated icons in recent memory.

AndreJimi Hendrix: All Is By My Side

Status: in production

Andre 3000 is playing the legendary guitarist. Note: Hendrix’s estate would not give permission to use his iconic songs. So how do you make a movie about a music icon.. without his music? Apparently they have had Andre recording other music of the era, including the Beatles and Muddy Waters.

EllisJames Brown: Get On Up

Status: pre production

True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis will play James Brown in the story of his rise from poverty to stardom. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as are also cast as Brown’s wife and aunt, respectively.

"Captain Phillips" - Los Angeles Premiere


John Belushi: Untitled

Status: in development

Adam Devine and Emile Hirsch are in talks to play Belushi in a new biopic. Nelson Franklin (guest on New Girl) said to be playing Dan Akyroyd, Belushi’s closest friend. Belushi’s widow, Judy, and Akyroyd himself are on board as producers of the film.



Marvin Gaye: Sexual Healing

Status: in production

The soulful songbird turned Law and Order cop Jesse L. Martin is playing the icon. He will be reunited with his L&O costar, S. Epatha Merkerson, who will play Gaye’s mother.


Freddie Mercury: Untitled

Status: in development

Sasha Baron Cohen was the slated choice but this week the actor dropped out, Brian May explains that “his presence would have been distracting” in the film, but insists his departure was on good terms. They are close to a replacement being cast, but mum on names. English actor and Skyfall star Ben Whishaw is said to be the next pick.



Lance Armstrong: Red Blooded American

Status: in development

Jay Roach’s version now has Bradley Cooper in the title role, but the biopic will also focus on Lance’s teammate Tyler Hamilton, who is yet to be cast. Will this mean Bradley has to shave his head? There is also a Stephen Frears production, not yet titled, starring Ben Foster, which is already filming. The fallen icon is still a hot topic evidently.


Fred Rogers: A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Status: in development

A Mister Rogers biopic will be adapted from 2006 memoir by Tim Mandigan “I’m Proud of You.” Rumors continue to swirl as to who will play the kindest of icons, including Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, Big Bang’s Jim Parsons, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris, and Matthew Broderick. Wish we could witness the audition process. Who will take off their shoes and put on a sweater the best?

-Meg S.


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