Emile Hirsch to star as John Belushi in big-screen biopic

Emile Hirsch has been tapped to star as the late John Belushi in a planned biopic on the comedian who became a star as an original cast member on Saturday Night Live, the breakout supporting character of National Lampoon’s Animal House, and one-half of The Blues Brothers.

Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982 at the age of 33.

A previous biopic of Belushi, Wired, based on Bob Woodward’s unauthorized biography, was panned by critics (as was the book by Belushi’s widow and surviving friends). This film, to be written and directed by Steve Conrad, is based on the book Belushi — written by widow Judy Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby. Dan Aykroyd also is executive producing. Also producing: Alexandra Milchan and Bonnie Timmermann from Emjag, and Scott Lambert from Film 360. They’re looking to go into production next spring in NYC.

Conrad wrote the upcoming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and previously penned screenplays for The Pursuit of Happyness and The Weather Man.

Hirsch, 28, also portrayed a maturity beyond his age in early big-screen works — ranging from Into The Wild to The Girl Next Door.

So Hirsch will be Belushi. He reportedly beat out the likes of Adam Devine from Comedy Central’s Workaholics. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention my friend, the stand-up comedian Sean Patton, who maybe wasn’t considered enough but managed a response anyhow on Monday, writing on Twitter: “Am I bummed that I wasn’t considered to play John Belushi? No! Because one day Jim will die and I can audition to star in that biowebisode!”

Hirsch joins other actors in long-planned biopics on comedy legends. Where do those projects stand as of today?

Josh Gad is set to play the late Sam Kinison in a Larry Charles film based on the book written by Kinison’s brother. A biopic on the late Richard Pryor, meanwhile, remains up in the air — Forest Whitaker had been the latest guy attached, not to star, but to direct such a project. We’ll believe the latter movie is happening when we start to see the dailies.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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