John Belushi Biopic Finds a Director, Emile Hirsch and Joaquin Phoenix Eyed to Star

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Universal

A film version of John Belushi's life has been in the works for quite some time, but a few new developments have emerged, possibly giving the production enough juice to escape from production hell. First, the untitled biopic has found a director. Second, it's started looking at a list of very interesting names to play the late comic genius.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Conrad will step behind the camera for the project. Conrad, best known as a screenwriter with credits like 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' and 'The Pursuit of Happyness,' was already attached as a writer when 'The Hangover' director Todd Phillips was going to direct. However, the film fell apart at Warner Bros. and Phillips dropped out, so Conrad is taking matters into his own hands, pushing his Belushi biopic forward as an independent production.

For the role of the infamous 'SNL,' 'Animal House' and 'The Blues Brothers ' star, Conrad has apparently spoken with Emile Hirsch and 'Workaholics' star Adam Devine, but his shortlist also includes Joaquin Phoenix. Nelson Franklin has been approached about appearing as Dan Aykroyd, Belushi's friend and frequent collaborator.

The story of Belushi's life has been told on screen before, most notably with the 1989 TV-movie 'Wired,' which saw Michael Chiklis play the ill-fated comic, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 33. That project was heavily criticized by Belushi's friends and family, so they may see this new biopic as a chance to set the record straight. After all, Judy Belushi Pisano, John's widow, is a producer on this film and Aykroyd is an executive producer, which means both will get a hand in casting people to play their younger selves.

Although they don't have their Belushi yet, Conrad and his team are eyeing a spring 2014 start date for the film.

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