'Frozen' Star Josh Gad May Play Roger Ebert & Co-Star With Will Ferrell In 'Russ & Roger Go Beyond'
Roger Ebert will make the leap from legendary and fondly remembered movie critic to movie character, and he might do it with a Frozen star playing him. According to The Wrap Josh Gad is being eyed to play Ebert in Russ & Roger Go Beyond. If Gad does indeed sign on to play the critic there'll no doubt be a lot of pressure from all sides to do the man justice.
Russ & Roger Beyond will center on the "unique" relationship between Ebert and Russ Meyer — who'll be played by Will Ferrell — who worked together on cult classic Beyond the Valley Of the Dolls. According the The Wrap:
Ebert had written a positive review of one of Meyer’s films, and the director was so appreciative that he hired the critic to write the screenplay for Dolls. Together, they battled the ratings board over the film’s X-rating and 20th Century Fox’s board of directors. They remained friends until Meyer died in 2004.
It's certainly an interesting story, and not one nearly as well-known as Ebert's collaboration with fellow critics Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. As Ebert himself wrote of the film and his experience after the fact:
Remembered after 10 years, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls seems more and more like a movie that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum. At the time Russ Meyer and I were working on BVD I didn't really understand how unusual the project was. But in hindsight I can recognize that the conditions of its making were almost miraculous. An independent X-rated filmmaker and an inexperienced screenwriter were brought into a major studio and given carte blanche to turn out a satire of one of the studio's own hits. And BVC was made at a time when the studio's own fortunes were so low that the movie was seen almost fatalistically, as a gamble that none of the studio executives really wanted to think about, so that there was a minimum of supervision (or even cognizance) from the Front Office.
We wrote the screenplay in six weeks flat, laughing maniacally from time to time, and then the movie was made. Whatever its faults or virtues, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is an original -- a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas, heavily overlaid with such shocking violence that some critics didn't know whether the movie "knew" it was a comedy.
Jonah Hill was reportedly considered for the role of Ebert previously, but I'm kind of glad the eye's on Gad now: He's gotten a few big roles in pretty big things since his Book Of Mormon days (Frozen, Wish I Was Here, The Wedding Ringer) but he hasn't busted out as much as I think he could. If he nails playing such a beloved figure, though? That'll do the trick.