When producers cast the role of John Belushi for a biopic, you’d normally expect them to select an actor resembling the late Saturday Night Live funnyman’s public persona: goofy, overweight, bumbling. Emile Hirsch, star of The Girl Next Door and the upcoming telepic Bonnie & Clyde, is none of those things.
But a closer look at the source material for Steve Conrad’s upcoming indie drama reveals that the role is more suited for Hirsch than might initially be expected. The film, which Conrad will write and direct, focuses on the period from Belushi’s rise to fame in New York (with SNL) and Hollywood (with Animal House and The Blues Brothers) in the late 1970s through his fatal overdose in 1982 at the age of 33.
Hirsch, who’s shown a willingness to throw himself into meatier roles—including that of Christopher McCandless in the Sean Penn-directed Into the Wild—seems a more fitting choice for this particular version of Belushi than comedians who bare a physical resemblance to the late star. Shooting is expected to begin in New York City next spring, with Dan Aykroyd also involved as one of the film’s executive producers.