Originally developed as a project for director Todd Phillips, as perhaps the bleakest expression yet of his recurring “dangers of partying” theme, a biopic of John Belushi is in the works again after languishing for the past three years at Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the as-yet-untitled movie about the comedian “at the height of his fame” (and the height of his being high) will move forward without Phillips as an independent production under the direction of screenwriter Steve Conrad, whose credits like The Weather Man and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty bear similar themes of man’s struggles with his own identity that the Belushi biopic hopes to capture.
Unlike the previous Belushi biopic—the Michael Chiklis-starring Wired—those themes will be examined a little more sympathetically than having a naked Belushi, fresh from the autopsy table, running around and looking at all his mistakes. Indeed, both Belushi’s widow and Dan Aykroyd are on board as producers (and certainly Dan Aykroyd would have no part in tarnishing John Belushi’s legacy), and it’s described as “the story of a man that embodied both the glory and the tragedy of the American dream,” much like a little chocolate donut.
But as with the Phillips project, all anyone really cares about is who’s playing Belushi—a casting process that, even before the movie was announced, involved asking every overweight actor in Hollywood some variation on, “Hey tubby, why don’t you play fat John Belushi, because you’re so fat?” Yet Conrad seems to be going in a slightly different direction: THR says that—in addition to meeting with perennially abused Office and Veep staffer Nelson Franklin to play Aykroyd—he’s met with Emile Hirsch and Workaholics’ Adam Devine about the lead, while even Joaquin Phoenix’s name has “also surfaced,” presumably in the whirls of a mystical fountain divined by a hydromancer who is drunk.
Of course, none of these actors bear much physical resemblance to Zach Galifianakis, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Ethan Suplee, Tyler Labine, Chubby McSplitpants, Bobby Boobsweat, Colonel Blimpee Von SleepApnea, or any of the other actors who were named as being “considered” for the role, even if they had zero interest in it. But it’s possible that, in addition to fostering his own directorial vision, Conrad just really, really wants someone to eat a ton of heavy brunches with.