John Belushi Biopic To Star Emile Hirsch; Widow, Dan Akroyd To Produce

Image: John Belushi Biopic To Star Emile Hirsch; Widow, Dan Akroyd To Produce Emile Hirsch, left, and John Belushi.

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 10:08 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Emile Hirsch, better known for his dramatic work, will play the iconic comedian John Belushi in an upcoming biopic that will be co-produced by the late actor's widow Judy Belushi Pisano and Dan Aykroyd.

Aykroyd, Belushi's friend and "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" cast mate on "Saturday Night Live," will be an executive producer.

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Hirsch, who played the lead in the 2008 movie "Speed Racer," has also starred in "Milk" with Sean Penn, "Into the Wild," and "The Girl Next Door." Hirsch's next projects include the miniseries "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Lone Survivor" with Mark Wahlberg.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Comedy Central's Adam Devine and three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix were also considered for the Belushi role. Nelson Franklin, of "Veep" and "New Girl" is a leading contender to play Aykroyd. 

"Belushi, who also starred in 'Animal House,' is one of those Hollywood icons whose talent and potential were snuffed out at a fairly young age," according to The Hollywood Reporter. "The comedian famously died at the age of 33 from a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont in 1982. Insiders say the biopic hopes to tell the story of a man that embodied both the glory and the tragedy of the American dream as it focuses on Belushi at the height of his fame."

The Wrap's Jeff Sneider said despite Hirsch's lack of comedic experience, he should have the overall acting experience to pull off the role. 

"His comedic chops are underrated by most," Sneider wrote. "His work in 'The Girl Next Door,' 'Prince Avalanace' and 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' prove he’s capable of pulling off the part of a sad clown who loved making people laugh as he struggled with his own addiction demons."

Matt McDaniel, of Yahoo! Movie Talk, disagreed, and said Hirsch does not have the chops to play the comedic legend. 

"Mass aside, Hirsch is also not particularly known for comedies," McDaniel wrote. "He has been acting professionally since he was 8, but a majority of his roles have been in dramas. . . . His most high-profile role was as the title character in the big-screen version of 'Speed Racer,' but that was a box-office flop."

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