Who should play John Belushi in a new biopic?

john-belushiImage Credit: Owen Franken/CorbisThe tragically short life of comedian John Belushi is about to come to the big screen thanks to director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and writer Steven Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness), according to the Hollywood Reporter. The SNL alum, who starred in movies like Animal House and The Blues Brothers, became a comedy icon before succumbing to a drug overdose at age 33 — a dramatic arc tailor-made for biopic treatment. In fact, there’s already been a Belushi pic: The 1989 bomb Wired, starring Michael Chiklis. The movie, like the Bob Woodward biography it was based on, was savaged by critics and received coldly by Belushi’s family and friends.

But a new Belushi pic, with the late comic’s widow on board as an executive producer, brings a new chance to get his story right. Of course, it will also offer a potential tour de force role for the actor who plays the troubled funnyman. So who’s up for the task? THR lists a few viable candidates, like Zach Galifianakis (he’s 40, which might be too old), Jack Black (says he’s not interested), Jonah Hill, etc., but we’re more interested in hearing what you think, PopWatchers. Who should play John Belushi? Check out the classic SNL clip below for inspiration, and then give us your best casting ideas in the comments.

Comments (183 total) Add your comment
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  • wooster182

    My first thought was Jack Black. So disappointed that he has no interest. Looking at the above pic though…If Joaquin Phoenix was slightly chubbier, he would nail it.

    • Javabooknut

      Actually a superb idea if he every comes to his senses.

      • EZ

        Jonah Hill?

      • wooster182

        He actually already has. Joaq has been clean and very healthy looking for several months now. The film comes out in September. Maybe it was a year long audition to play Belushi. LOL.

      • Andrea

        @EZ: that’s exactly who i was thinking!!

    • KWise

      Great idea – Joaquin Phoenix!!

    • KC

      I agree. Jack Black seems the obvious choice. Same body type and crazy over the top comedy

    • Znachki

      Taylor Labine – Sock from Reaper

      • Biodomer

        that would be awesome!

      • Dede

        Love him. Just caught his hilarious cameo in Zack And Miri Make A Porno last night.

    • Cato

      They should cast an unknown, but I’d rather they didn’t make this movie at all. I am a Belushi fan, and I would like to see an honest film about his life, but it won’t happen. Read any book about Belushi and you will see that his legacy has been usurped by sycophants who talk about him as if he were Jesus. They won’t own up to his flaws, his professional jealousies, or the depth of his drug abuse. Chris Farley’s friends are very candid about his problems. Belushi’s friends have never been particularly honest in that regard.

      • octoberman

        Do you still think that way knowing his wife will be involved?

      • Cato

        I didn’t read Judy Belushi Pisano’s book “Samurai Widow,” so I can’t comment on that. The book titled “Belushi” that she edited was a collection of quotations from various people who sickeningly worshipped the ground John walked on. Even A&E’s “Biography” on Belushi portrayed him as a misunderstood saint. I’m afraid I don’t have much optimism for honesty here.

      • Johnnie 5

        i agree… all of the known actors that fit the look can’t act well enough to do the role justice. Jim Carrey did not play Andy Kaufman… he WAS Andy Kaufman… Jamie Foxx did not play Ray Charles, he WAS Ray. Jack Black, Zack Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Artie Lange (he does a bad job playing himself), Bobby Moynihan are fine at what they do and they can be entertaining, but they do not possess the chops to do this role justice at all. At least Phoenix can act, and if he wants to gain 70 pounds and learn how to open his mouth when talking, then it might be ok. They need to do some pretty serious searching and submissions to find the right actor. Or have it played by Dakota Fanning. John would’ve cast her I believe.

      • octoberman

        See, that’s the thing…how could you KNOW? Sure, Jamie Foxx could sing and play piano, but how could you know he could BE Ray Charles and not just mimic his well-known mannerisms? How could you know Will Smith could be Muhammed Ali and not just impersonate him unless he was allowed to stretch a bit? Or Charlize Theron be a serial killer, or Halle Berry a crack ‘ho. I don’t know if any would’ve been thought of as being able to handle those roles given their work up until then.

      • Johnnie 5

        i see where you are going, but, jonah hill, seth rogan, zach galifianakis, etc, have only played roles that are essentially them with a different name in a different situation. jamie foxx, halle barry, theron have all before those oscar worthy roles played different character types that required, well, acting, as opposed to just being called a different. now, that doesn’t jonah hill a bad guy, they all crack me up, but it is the same like character. having said that, they could be good, who knows.

  • joZ

    sad to say because I don’t think it will happen, but Artie Lange was positively born to play this role

    • MB

      Amen on that one

    • Mary

      Yeah, Artie was the first and only person I thought of when I saw the title of this article, but unfortunately he’s going through some real problems at the moment. I think playing one of his heroes on film could put more pressure on him and possibly push him further over the edge.

    • Karate Pants

      Totally disagree – he really doesn’t bear a striking likeness, and how much does he weigh right now? I know his weight has fluctuated, and maybe he’s on the lighter side now (I have no idea), but he’s usually MUCH heavier than Belushi ever was.

    • KC

      100% agreed. Artie would be my only suggestion, anyone else would just fall far short.

      • UGH

        Artie! Artie!
        Poor guy.
        I wish there was an update on him somewhere.

    • Psac

      I thought Artie, too. But the Artie Lange biopic could be the next one…

    • JeffGo5

      Too old also, 40+

    • george

      I think they’re looking for someone who can actually act.

      • chuck

        you suck george!!!! artie is the best

    • jessica

      i thought of artie lange as well. i sure hope he is doing alright, they never mention him on the stern show anymore. i also agree, he was born to play that role.

    • deedee

      Artie must play this role

    • Kevin

      Just one problem… Belushi was funny, Artie isn’t.

    • WDC

      Artie’s having heroin problems right now. He quit the Stern show this year, and besides he’s too old. Johah Hill’s too lethargic. I’ll have to think on this one.

  • Henry

    Paul Giamatti

    • Javabooknut

      Possibly but also might be too old. ZG doesn’t look that old. Could work.

    • Potch

      Oh, that’s a good one.

    • Bwana

      Giamatti-no way. Just no…He always lets the whiner in him breathe out no matter whether he plays John Adams or the Sideways guy. Belushi was many things, but not a whiner

      I do like the Joaquin or Artie ideas.

  • Julz

    I know he may be slightly crazy but I think Joaquin Phoenix would be perfect.

    • Joan

      Totally agree.

    • wooster182

      I don’t think he’s as crazy as he seems, but doesn’t “slightly crazy” ring true for Belushi?

  • Karate Pants

    Bobby Moynihan (from SNL) actually looks a bit like him.
    Please, not Galifianakis though…

    • Karate Pants

      Actually, Matthew Perry has very similar facial structure to Belushi.

      • JeffGo5

        Matt LeBlanc looks like him

      • Karate Pants

        Definitely!

    • jk

      Too bad Bobby Moynihan isn’t the greatest actor.

    • loligirl

      I thought Bobby Moynihan too. Don’t know if he could carry the dramatic parts though.

  • Kim

    This is a tough one, but maybe take in a newcomer?

    • mary q contrary

      If he were to put on 60 lbs. and get an acting coach, maybe Pattinson could do it. He does bear a resemblance in the face. He’s probably too tall though. What about Seth Rogen?

  • Joshtinpowers

    Taraji P. Henson. Why? Because she’s a great actress.

    • Melissa

      Winner.

    • familymember

      LOL. I vote for his brother Jim. Just use CGI or make up to make him look younger. He problaby knows firsthand all the turmoil that comes with the character.

  • McNulty

    The Old Spice guy.

  • paige

    why not his brother Jim Belushi? He is a comic geneous, looks just like him (only taller).

    • Veronica Victorian

      I agree! Who better to play him than his brother! I mean, that should be an obvious first choice.

      • hob

        Yeah, it’s obvious a guy that’s pushing 60 should play a man that died at 33.

    • Melissa

      Not only is his age a problem but asking a man to act out his brother’s downfall and death? That’s kind of morbid, in my eyes.

      • Stephanie

        Glad somebody said it.

    • Javabooknut

      Cause he’s 30 years older than john when he died. I thought the same thing but he’s too old.

    • george

      Jim Belushi is horrible. You never would have heard of him if it wasn’t for John.

    • khall

      thays what i said his brother who knows him better than his bro i think jim should do it

    • Zack

      I find it amusing that someone who considers Jim Belushi a comic GENIUS can’t even spell the word correctly. Anyone with half a brain can tell you that Jim is nothing more than a hack who only has work because he’s the brother of a TRUE comic genius! I was born to play this role. I’ve been doing comedy for 7 years and as a fat, ugly man, Farley and Belushi are the 2 I look up to most. With the exception of the hair, Belushi and myself are practically identical.

  • K.C.

    Artie Lang was born to play this role. tragically he seems to have played some of it in real life, just as John did. But i hope Artie is able to battle his demons and move forward. i miss hearing Artie on the Howard Stern Show but this would be the part of a lifetime for him.

  • ab

    Ron Livingston? He can play comedy (Office Space) and drama (Band of Brothers) and his face reminds me of Belushi.

    • Karate Pants

      I can see it…the brows, the nose. Totally feasible.

  • Adam B

    I’m just not that interested in a version of the Belushi story which would be sanitized in any way by his family. Let’s tell the truth, and if Wired was a hatchet job just do something honest instead.

    The real question is whether they’ll have the rights to reproduce all the SNL and film work which he did — if it’s “The Suit Brothers” and “Fraternity House” without the same jokes, it’ll be weird.

    • JLC

      My thoughts exactly. You don’t want to see a hatchet job, but you also don’t want something vetted by those interested keeping his memory sacred. The guy had a lot of personal demons. A biopic needs to reflect that.

  • Kim

    My first thought was Jack Black

    • Meier

      How about Rob Riggle?

  • BILL

    ARTIE LANGE

  • Shane

    I can’t get past anyone thinking that Jim Belushi is a “comic geneous”

    • Kel

      But all of you are forgetting that John Belushi was only 33 at the time of his death. These guys are all too old to play him!

      • Shane

        No I was not forgetting that. The idea is as offensive to me as I am sure it would be to Jim himself.
        I was simply wondering what planet does someone live on who thinks Jim Belushi is a comic geneous (whatever that is).

    • llevinso

      Jim Belushi and John Belushi are two different people. The article never said “Jim Belushi is a comic genius.”

      • rick

        Chris Rock?

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