What Are They Waiting On?!15 Biopics That Desperately Need To Be Made

February 12, 2013  |  
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Every year there are plenty of odes to some of the world’s most prominent people. This past year it was Abraham Lincoln. It was Alfred Hitchcock. It was Margaret Thatcher. But who should be next to have their life story told on the silver screen? Madame Noire makes its picks for 15 legends who deserve some cinematic recognition.


Marvin Gaye

This film can’t come soon enough. While, thankfully, a biopic on the legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye is in the works, with Lenny Kravitz taking on lead role duties, we won’t be happy until that bad boy hits theaters. Even before shooting has started, the film is already embroiled in controversy, with Gaye’s son, Marvin, telling TMZ “The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful … [They’re] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don’t even know the whole story.” We know this must be a sensitive subject for him, but here’s to hoping the movie will celebrate, not shame his father.


Lena Horne

We’ve all heard the rumblings of Alicia Keys starring the the long-awaited silver screen telling of Lena Horne’s story. Oprah Winfrey seemingly commandeered the project several years ago, but a timeline for the movie has yet to be announced and the project seems to be stuck in development limbo. That’s a real shame, Horne’s life story is incredibly interesting, particularly the story behind her not getting the lead role in “Showboat,” and definitely deserves to be told. Come on, Oprah, this one is a winner and we know that you know that. So let’s get it going.


Elizabeth Taylor

OK, so we know what you’re thinking: Didn’t Elizabeth Taylor just get a biopic? Yes, that is true. Lindsay Lohan starred opposite Grant Bowler as Richard Burton in the Lifetime adaptation of the starlet’s story, focusing on her years involved with her “Cleopatra” co-star. But did you see that hotmess? Taylor must be doing somersaults in her grave. We think one of the most beautiful women to ever walk the earth deserves a little bit more than LiLo’s post-jail debut. She deserves a movie with a talented cast that does more than simply skim the surface of an amazing life, on-screen and off it.


Richard Pryor

So we have no idea why a Richard Pryor documentary would be stuck in the purgatory that is film development, but alas it has been. But thankfully, it looks like progress has been made … sort of. Recently Pryor’s widow gave Mike Epps her blessing to play her late husband in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic. Since she’s been very picky about who portrays Pryor — and given that she’s acting as producer on the movie — her approval on Epps could bode very well not only for him, but for the future of this film.


Jimi Hendrix

Praise the rock and roll gods, because it looks as if all systems are a go for the upcoming film on Jimi Hendrix’s life. Though “All Is By My Side” will not feature any of the great guitarist’s songs (his estate wouldn’t give up the rights), we are confident that Andre 3000 will fully embody Hendrix’s attitude, his swagger and his talent. We are counting down the days until this John Ridley masterpiece hits theaters.

Source: WENN

Bob Marley

Sure there’s been documentaries, but we think this reggae legend deserves a full-out, big screen biopic. Even his son Ziggy hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing his father’s story to life.”Eventually, maybe, but it would have to be great,” Ziggy told NextMovie. “It couldn’t just be for trying to make a profit. There would have to be a reason. Maybe for another generation. The documentary is like an encyclopedia that details specifics. A biopic would be more like a short summary.” Hey Hollywood, let’s get this one going. Thanks.


Janis Joplin

Lots of young singers have tried to emulate her, but really ya’ll, there is only one Janis Joplin. And we certainly think that its been far overdue that this legendary rock and blues singer get her just due on the big screen. Interestingly, now it looks like she might get a few dueling biopics. But the one we’re really interested in is “Get It While You Can” which is poised to star actress Amy Adams and be overseen by “Precious” director Lee Daniels. Strange pairing? Maybe, but we also think it could really lead to some biopic awesomeness. Here’s to hoping that no logistical issues relegate this movie to the “put on hold” ranks.

Danny Clifford/Hottwire.net/WENN

Nelson Mandela

Another project that has been in the works for far too long, the Nelson Mandela biopic is sure to be phenomenal. Especially because our boy Idris Elba is taking on starring role duties. “Long Walk to Freedom” will focus on the South African president’s childhood through his inauguration. Thankfully, Nelson Mandela himself has endorsed the film, so we’re sure that it is going to be a good one. And oh yeah, have we mentioned Idris is in it.

Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com

Aretha Franklin

It took long enough for this one to get off the ground, but we’re thrilled it finally did. And we love that the Queen of Soul herself is taking such an active role in planning it. As for who will take on starring role duties, Franklin said, “We have Jennifer Hudson, we have Halle Berry and Audra McDonald. That’s the last three. I went to see Audra in Porgy and Bess, and I was very impressed with her dramatic ability. She was terrific.”

She added “…Jennifer had voice. Audra has voice. The question is whether or not Audra can cross over into soul. You know, she does Broadway magnificently. But can she get over into soul is the question.”


Pam Grier

She’s a whole lotta woman and finally it looks like her story will be hitting the big screen. Pam Grier’s autobiography, “My Life in Three Acts,” is slated to get the big screen treatment. Though word hasn’t come down as to who will play the screen icon we know whoever it is will need to have that style, swagger and sex appeal that Grier made so very famous.


Kurt Cobain

It may have taken nearly half a decade to get together, but it looks as if Kurt Cobain’s life story will finally be brought to the big screen. Brett Morgan has worked closely with Cobain’s widow, singer Courtney Love, to create a film that will tell the rocker’s story, while embracing an unexpected film style. He told MNE Magazine, “We’re hoping the Cobain film, that’ll hopefully be released in 2014, will be this generation’s ‘The Wall’ — a mix of animation and live action that’ll allow the audience to experience Kurt in a way they never have before. It’s very ambitious.”

Chris Connor / WENN


Biggie got some love. Don’t you think it’s about time Tupac gets the same treatment? We certainly do. The Morgan Creek project originally had tapped Antoine Fuqua to direct, but after he left the film it seemed doomed to development purgatory. Thankfully, Creek seems to still be attached to the project and rumor has it filming is set to start this year. We certainly have our fingers crossed.


Whitney Houston

It didn’t take long after the tragic death of one of music’s most influential and talented stars for rumblings about a biopic to start up. Rihanna and Jennifer Hudson have both been rumored to be on the shortlist to star as Whitney Houston, with Idris Ela’s name also floating around the project. For what it’s worth, our vote is definitely for J-Hud. We’re jsut not convinced Rihanna (whose screen debut was “Battleship”) really has the acting chops to pull this one off. Sorry, RiRi.


Sammy Davis Jr.

Another project that unfortunately has landed in hold-up hell is the Sammy Davis Jr. biopic. This man’s life and times are just beginning to be adapted by an incredible direction and all-star cast, but sadly it has yet to come to fruition. And no, we don’t want a Rat Pack biopic. Sammy deserves his own film. Will 2013 be the year we get some details locked down?


Rick James

Rick James’ life story on the big screen? Yeah, we can’t think of too many things more entertaining, more engaging, more long-overdue. Can we please get this one off the ground already? We have no idea who should take on lead role responsibilities, but if Terrance Howard had some interest …

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  • lois

    Joyce Bryant needs a bopic played by Fantasia

  • Jay

    Why did y’all pick out that picture of Aretha? Couldn’t find any good ones???

  • Summy

    I find it hard to believe that out of 15 people that desperately need a biopic of their lives, that only one wasn’t an entertainer. I think, with the exception of just a few of these choices, that there are much more important stories that should be told.

  • Simba711

    There is Liz Taylor bio. It’s called “Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story.” It was a mini series. Liz was still alive when it was made. I own it.

  • Gehan

    It’s really amazing the twisted concepts Black&White producers take on our Legends. 1st they said movies about us don’t make money hopefully a $25M opening for The Butler will change that quick as long as no one ask BET to do it. We don’t value the truths within our brilliant American legacy. For example did you know the first woman on American radio was a Black woman from Detroit who also opened, owned, and operated a world famous music label with her brother, during the same time period as that shown in The Butler. This pair released the first five recordings of The Beatles to America and wrote and released the Duke of Earl. At least Halle bought Dorothy to us. What these other people are thinking I have no clue. Our Heritage is the most valuable commodity we have when handled correctly.

  • lisa

    Miguel should play PRINCE

  • Keisha Samoht

    Hmmm… I coulda sworn i said Michael Jackson needs a redo for that terrible biopic that had Flex Alexander lookin like a fool with that make up when it got to him around the Bad era…

    • shame on you

      that was real bad shame on you ”Flex” not only did you de-fame Micheal and yourself in was in very poor taste…he was so much more and you made a ”JOKE”

  • LNS

    We need a New Edition movie!

  • NaturallyInspired

    I’m sorry but J Hudson should NOT be portraying Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston…yea she can both sing n act BUT voice wise she’s not in the same range as Aretha, Fantasia has more of the Aretha soul…I ain’t tryna see her loose even more weight to try n play Whitney either! and voice wise again she is no Whitney, that role needs to go to an up n coming singer…they need to go sit n listen to some gospel singers to find a Whitney…IJS

    • shame on you

      Monia can do Whitney ???????

    • Keisha Samoht

      Fantasia may have a more soulful voice to portray Aretha, but has her acting skills improved?

    • her

      I know this was awhile ago, but did you see Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to Aretha Franklin on the BET Honors? Jennifer DEFINITELY has the range to play Aretha. Not knocking Fantasia, but Jennifer can do it.

  • queen

    I would like to see the florence ballard biopic, from the supremes. The true story….

  • misty

    What about james brown?

  • FromUR2UB

    An Alfred HItchcok biopic? Must see that.
    I would watch biopics on all those subjects. I don’t want to see any cheapo Lifetime productions of them though. I expected James Brown would be on the list. That’s one I really want to see.

  • HoneyDipp

    I vote Taraji P. Henson for Pam Grier…. And I can def see Terrence Howard as Rick James.

  • voiceofreason37

    Lynn Whitfield has already portrayed Josephine Baker, but I would love to see a more modern take on her iconic life.

  • Kelly

    They should do one on prince!!

    • NaturallyInspired

      HELL YEA!!!

      • shame on you

        who do you think can become the ”PURPLE ONE”??????????

        • lisa

          ‘let my love adorn you’ Miguel could become the PURPLE ONE

  • Roseet23

    Rihanna doesn’t have the voice or looks for Whitney Houston

    • Simba711

      Nor acting talent.

  • Guest

    At one point Jesse L. Martin was supposed to be lead for the Marvin Gaye biopic. I think he is a better choice than Lenny Kravitz. He’s an accomplished Broadway and television actor and physically resembles Marvin more than Lenny. I love Lenny but I don’t think he’s right for Marvin Gaye!! An unknown with super talent should play Whitney!! I read somewhere that her daughter wants to play her which would be a disaster!!

    • shame on you

      Jesse L. Martin is the only person to become Marvin Gaye…i love Lenny to he to short

    • Keisha Samoht

      I hope Jesse reconsiders cause he looks just like Marvin

  • Buttafly

    They did have one for Janice Joplin. Starring Bette Midler callled “The Rose”

    • psylocke_2001


  • NeaJ

    If Halle Berry gets the part of Aretha (which I read she doesn’t want) would she wear a fat suit? Cause I doubt she’s gonna gain the 300 pounds needed to play that role. She already has her Oscar so she’s not beat for that

    • psylocke_2001

      Aretha wasn’t big her entire life.

  • LC

    I still think they should just groom a random actress for the Whitney Houston biopic despite singing ability. (i.e. Angela Bassett as Tina Turner – killed the part! Didn’t have to sing.)

    • shame on you

      so very right the right cast makes a great movie…

    • Keisha Samoht

      ok, good point…

  • ReShay

    The first picture looks like Alicia Keys. She should play whoever she is.

    • Lonnie

      Yea. I’ve never seen this photo, of Ms. Horne. She does look like her

    • Lola

      Alicia has stated that she def wants to play Lena Horne, so I hope it happens.

    • Jay

      “Whoever she is”. Miss, your ignorance is showing…

  • Keisha Samoht

    Marlon Wayans was in the runnings to portray Richard Pyror too. I thought he had it…