So…Speed Racer is going to be Jake Blues. Put another way, Christopher McCandless is going to play Captain “Wild” Bill Kelso. In all the surreal casting choices that Hollywood makes on a regular basis (Cameron Diaz as a car-humping trophy wife? Seriously?), the choosing of Emile Hirsch to play John Belushi in an upcoming “family-approved” biopic (according to Deadline.com, among other sources) has got to be the most insane.
Nothing against the actor – he has been excellent in such substantial fare as ‘Into the Wild,’ ‘Milk,’ and most recently, David Gordon Green’s ‘Prince Avalanche,’ but to essay the larger than life leanings of a man whose appetites eventually killed him seems a mighty stretch for – dare I say it – such a “slight” performer.
Like many of his ilk, comedian Belushi’s candle burned too brightly, too quickly, finally flaming out over too much cocaine and too much celebrity on a fateful evening in March of 1982. As one of the mega-breakout stars of the original ‘Saturday Night Live‘ (which is now in its…39th season. YIKES!) he, along with Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray, set the tone for subversive, off the wall humor for the decade to come. After appearing in John Landis’ landmark ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House,’ he was anointed the “Next Big Thing” which proved lethal to his already expanding ego…and waistline. By the time his heart gave out thanks to a speedball, he had barely started his superstar ascent.
Now, Belushi’s widow Judith Pisano (along with Aykroyd and others) are overseeing the production of a new overview, one based not on Bob Woodward’s warts-and-all tabloid tome ‘Wired,’ but instead, on a book she co-authored with Tanner Colby. Supposedly much kinder and friendlier to her late hubby than the ‘All the President’s Men’ scribe’s scandal filled tome, Hirsch will now tread the path once walked by none other than Michael Chiklis (before ‘The Fantastic Four’…before ‘The Shield’…before, well, pretty much anything). On the plus side, for those whose parents weren’t even born before Belushi rose and fizzled out, this will all be new. On the negative, those of us who grew up on the eyebrow cocking comedy legend recognize how large the shoes are that Hirsch must walk in. This won’t be easy.