In the Cynthia Mort written-and-directed drama, she traces the legendary crooner’s ascent to stardom and her relationship with her Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo (“The Last King of Scotland”). Epps, who joins the cast in a supporting role, will play Richard Pryor, who opened for the singer when they were two struggling up-and-comers out in the early 1960s. The story goes that Pryor had terrible stage fright and Simone, recalled through her autobiography, helped the funnyman ease into calmness.
The film, which stars Zoe Saldana in the title role, starts shooting this week in Los Angeles. Ealing Studios is behind the movie and handling foreign sales.
Epps is coming off a spectacular showing in “Sparkle,” Screen Gems’ musical that proved to be Whitney Houston’s last movie, and recently wrapped a gig in Warners’ tentpole comedy “The Hangover Part III”. He also has the thriller “Vipaka,” with Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie, in the can.
Props: Shadow and Act