Marlon Wayans - Richard Pryor Audition Footage from Tambay A Obenson on Vimeo.

When Precious and The Butler director Lee Daniels revealed that he was making a Richard Pryor biopic, he found himself looking to cast a role that many actors would fight tooth and nail for. The legendary comic, who passed away in 2005, was an inspiration to countless performers and belongs on any shortlist of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. The fact that his life was also deeply tragic makes him an even more fascinating figure. This was a chance for an actor to honor a legend and get the dramatic role of a lifetime. The part ultimately went to Mike Epps, but long before Daniels was attached to direct, Marlon Wayans auditioned for the role. That audition tape has now surfaced.

Although Wayans is best known for his work in comedy, he’s displayed his dramatic chops before. You may remember him best from In Living Color and the Scary Movie franchise, but he also played a desperate heroin addict in Requiem For a Dream. In other words, he’s a comedy guy capable of playing someone with deep pain in his life. He may not have gotten the part, but it’s not surprising at all that he was under consideration.

Wayans’ audition tape is split in two halves. The first finds his Pryor engaging in a heart-to-heart conversation, discussing his drug use and his troubled relationships. The second half showcases Pryor’s public life, with Wayans performing a piece of his stand-up comedy. His performance is solid enough, capturing enough of the subject without being a silly impersonation, but it has the roughness you’d expect from an audition video. We are even more intrigued now to see what Epps brings to the role.

The Richard Pryor biopic doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s expected to begin filming in July so it can arrive just in time for the next Oscar season.