After several years of development fits and starts, a biopic about the late comedy star John Belushi is now headed — if still tentatively — in the right direction. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Conrad, the writer of Ben Stiller’s upcoming movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, will now direct the Belushi biopic; he’s already written the script, which The Hangover’s Todd Phillips was initially set to direct.
Word is that Conrad has a shortlist of several actors who he thinks could and would play Belushi, led by Emile Hirsch and Workaholics star Adam Devine. Joaquin Phoenix is supposedly also in discussion to take on the role of the comic genius who died of a drug overdose at age 33 in 1982.
Those are some fine names, but we have some other suggestions for who should play the iconic Blues Brothers, Animal House, and SNL star.
1. Chris Pratt
This Parks and Recreation star can do the comedic bits required and, as he’s shown in supporting roles in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, Pratt also has the dramatic chops, which will be required in a film that will look at the dark side of a tortured great. The fact that he got jacked up for Guardians of the Galaxy — which should make him a big star who can carry a Belushi biopic — also proves that Pratt’s willing to put his body through whatever it takes for a role.
2. Adam Pally
It wouldn’t take much makeup work to get the former Happy Endings star to be the spitting image of Belushi, and he’s also got that devil-may-care attitude that made the latter such an icon. He’s less tested dramatically than Pratt, which makes him our No. 2, but as far as look and feel go, he’s right up there. And at age 31, it’s perfect timing.
Just imagining him as Samurai Futaba is already hilarious.
3. Chris O’Dowd
OK, so he has to nail the accent, but the Irish star of Family Tree and Bridesmaids has charm and quick wit to spare. If you saw the Australian hit The Sapphires, you know he can do disheveled drama quite well, and if you’re a fan of The IT Crowd, there is no doubt in your mind that nonchalant nihilism is in his bag of tricks, too.
Plus, Belushi had strong opinions about Irish people, so it’s already a great fit.
4. Jake Johnson
Like Belushi, Johnson is a Chicago native. He’s shown a proclivity for comedy, obviously, with his role in New Girl, but his gig as Nick Miller has also allowed him to play caustic and sad on occasion. Last summer’s indie favorite Safety Not Guaranteed was a great showcase for his more dramatic, troubled side.
Johnson would have to put on weight, of course, but his role in the upcoming buddy cop movie Let’s Be Cops should raise his profile even more.
5. Charlie Day
Want a guy who can go insane after long moments of calm? Look no further than Day’s character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Like Belushi, Day is a smaller guy with an obvious wit behind his comedic outer layer, and between the Horrible Bosses sequel and parts in movies like Pacific Rim, he’s reaching the point of real mainstream recognition.
6. James Corden
A bit of a left field pick, Corden is a great writer and actor who is responsible for the sitcom Gavin and Stacey in the UK. He’s also got serious stage chops, and will play The Baker in the Into the Woods movie adaptation. If they’re looking for a clean slate, Corden could be an underdog choice.