After much speculation as to who would take on the responsibility of portraying the storied comedian, Film 360 announced Monday that Emile Hirsch, 28, has signed on to play John Belushi in director Steve Conrad’s still-untitled biopic.
The long-gestating biopic only recently regained traction when Conrad, who wrote The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, and Ben Stiller’s upcoming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, signed on to both write and direct. The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips was originally slated to direct. Reports surfaced last week that he’d held meetings with Hirsch and Workaholics lead Adam DeVine about taking on the role. Even Joaquin Phoenix’s name was thrown around as a potential contender.
John Belushi was only 33 when he died of an overdose in Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont, but he had already managed to make an incredible impact on the culture as one of the original castmembers of Saturday Night Live and through memorable roles in films like The Blues Brothers, Animal House, and 1941. Michael Chiklis played Belushi in the 1989 film Wired, a major flop from director Larry Peerce (Goodbye, Columbus) that has yet to be released on DVD, but other than that the late comedian has yet to be given a proper biopic.
Hirsch is no stranger to portraying real-life characters. In Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, Hirsch brought Christopher McCandless to life based on Jon Krakauer’s account, and then in 2008 in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, Hirsch played AIDS activist Cleve Jones. Still, Belushi is easily the highest-profile figure he’s ever taken on.
Conrad, who is adapting a book penned by Belushi’s widow Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby, expects to shoot the biopic in the spring of 2014. Emjag’s Alexandra Milchan, Bonnie Timmermann, Film 360′s Scott Lambert, and Judy Belushi Pisano are producing. The role of Dan Aykroyd, Belushi’s friend and Blues Brothers co-star, has yet to be cast.
Get a preview of Bonnie and Clyde (2013) in this new clip. Starring Emilie Hirsch and Holliday Grainger. http://bit.ly/DeadlineSubscribe
Premiering on Lifetime, A&E and HISTORY on Sunday, December 8th and again on Monday, December 9th at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The fall film season just won’t let up this year and one more understated gem of a movie is joining the fray: Alan and Gabriel Polsky’s 2012 Rome film fest entry, “The Motel Life.” Starring Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning, and directed together by the Polskys (producers of “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and “Little Birds”) the drama depicts a pair of working-class brothers who flee their Reno motel after getting involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. Today, Polsky Films announced a November 8, 2013 release for “The Motel Life” in 15 cities nationwide, and on VOD via FilmBuff.
“The Motel Life” received four awards at the Rome Film Festival including the prestigious Audience Award. Our own Jessica Kiang saw the film in Italy and described it as a “gentle wise surprise of a film that without a doubt proving one of the most satisfying of our festival [experience],” while praising its “refreshing quiet confidence.” Based on the acclaimed novel “The Motel Life” by Willy Vlautin, in a statement by the Polsky brothers, the siblings said, “We were inspired and touched by the strength of [the characters] Frank and Jerry Lee’s relationship, and their ability to transcend their circumstances with imagination, hope, and humor. It was an exciting challenge to blend live action and animation to capture Frank and Jerry Lee’s world. We can’t wait to share their story with audiences.”
Here’s the official synopsis:
THE MOTEL LIFE explores the intense bond between two brothers living on the fringes of Reno, Nevada. They grew up depending on each other and their big imaginations to escape the challenges of their transient life. When one of the brothers is involved in a fatal accident, it forces both of them to choose between running or facing reality. It is a story of brotherhood, shared dreams and the redemptive power of hope.
“The Motel Life” arrives in theaters and VOD on November 8 and will expand after that debut. Check out an exclusive photo from the film above.
“Prince Avalanche,” the new movie from director David Gordon Green and starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, is not like any other film out this summer. First of all, two characters take up most of the screen time, and they spent the movie painting stripes on a burnt out highway in central Texas. Yet “Prince Avalanche” is one of the funniest and oddly fascinating movies of the year.
When MTV News sat down with Hirsch to discuss the movie, he revealed that the “project,” as Green called it originally, came together in an appropriate unique fashion.