Josh Gad says Chris Farley biopic is ‘very personal’ to him… weeks after it was revealed the actor will direct the project: ‘I think it’s gonna be really special’

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Two weeks after it was announced that New Line Cinema had obtained the rights of the upcoming Chris Farley biopic, the production’s first-time director, Josh Gad, is offering up a few teases about what fans can expect.

The film, which has the blessing of the Farley family, will explore the iconic comedian’s journey from his Wisconsin childhood to his meteoric rise to fame on Saturday Night Live in New York City, and his burgeoning movie career, leading to his tragic death from a drug overdose at the age of 33.

Although limited in what he can share about the story at this time, which will star Paul Walter Hauser as Farley, Gad revealed the source material the story will be based on during an interview with Collider. 

‘I can tell you that it’s based on the incredible book written by Chris’s brother, Tom [Farley Jr.], and his partner, Tanner [Colby], called The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts,’ he told the publication. 

The New York Times bestseller has been described as ‘a portrait of who Farley was to his closest friends, family and colleagues,’ while at the same time a tragic tale of the downfalls of addiction, which ultimately took his life in December 1997, two months before his 34th birthday.

New Line Cinema announced it had landed the Farley biopic two weeks ago

Josh Gad, 43, revealed his upcoming directorial debut for the upcoming Chris Farley biopic will be ‘very personal’ to him, considering he idolized the SNL legend while growing up

‘It’s gonna track his journey through thick and thin, oftentimes thick and oftentimes thin, and it’s going to do so in a way that I hope makes people laugh and sometimes cry,’ Gad explained. ‘But we’re really excited. We’re at the beginning of it, but I think it’s gonna be really special.’

For Gad, he knew his first directorial endeavor needed to be ‘something that was very personal’ to him, and the telling of Chris Farley’s story meets that emotional and creative bar, considering he’s worshiped the comedian since his own childhood. 

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have been tapped to write the screenplay based on the book, although Gad is expected to look at other sources for inspiration.

One important element the director will be looking to reach during the shoot will be Farley’s knack for universal humor, or his ability to make just about anyone laugh, which has helped keep him relevant through the 27-plus years since death.

‘There’s a joy and a legacy that Chris’s work has that is wholly unique. There are very few people that can universally make everyone laugh. Chris Farley was one of those individuals. So what I hope to capture is the essence of that,’ Gad revealed.

Gad will also be looking to ensure his depiction captures Farley’s emotionality by showing the depth of his relationships and his demons.   

The actor-turned-director fully understands the assignment ahead of him and the Herculean effort needed for the film to be a success with both fans and critics.

‘I’ve wanted to direct for a while, but I knew that I needed to do something that was very personal and a story about the struggle with weight, struggle with confidence, struggle with inner demons, and wanting to make people laugh even if sometimes it’s at your own expense,’ Gad explained of the need to make the biopic. 

'It's gonna track his journey through thick and thin, oftentimes thick and oftentimes thin, and it's going to do so in a way that I hope makes people laugh and sometimes cry,' Gad explained. 'But we're really excited. We're at the beginning of it, but I think it's gonna be really special'

‘It’s gonna track his journey through thick and thin, oftentimes thick and oftentimes thin, and it’s going to do so in a way that I hope makes people laugh and sometimes cry,’ Gad explained. ‘But we’re really excited. We’re at the beginning of it, but I think it’s gonna be really special’

Paul Walter Hauser has been tapped to play Farley in the biopic

Farley shot to fame as the big star of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s

Paul Walter Hauser, 37, had previously revealed his longtime desire to play Farley in a film

Gad added, ‘Those things felt wholly familiar and recognizable, in part because I worshiped Chris Farley growing up. So, it’s sort of a full-circle project for me, and in a way, I see a lot of myself in it.’ 

In a sense, The Beauty And The Beast star is looking at the biopic as a love letter of sorts to Farley’s life and career, which will be based on his love for comedian and his work during his own childhood watching from afar.

For Hauser, who previously expressed his longtime desire to play Farley on-screen, the film is also passion project of sorts.

The actor has been known his supporting roles in such films as I, Tonya (2017), BlacKkKlansman (2018), Late Night (2019), Da 5 Bloods (2020) and Cruella (2021), along with his breakout performance in the title role of Clint Eastwood’s drama film Richard Jewell (2019).

One important element Gad will be looking to reach as the director will be Farley's knack for universal humor, or his ability to make just about anyone laugh, which has helped keep him relevant through the 27-plus years since death; he is seen on SNL with Adam Sandler in 1995

One important element Gad will be looking to reach as the director will be Farley’s knack for universal humor, or his ability to make just about anyone laugh, which has helped keep him relevant through the 27-plus years since death; he is seen on SNL with Adam Sandler in 1995

Gad will also be looking to ensure his depiction captures Farley's emotionality by showing the depth of his relationships and his demons; After being fired from SNL, Farley had a burgeoning movie career, which included Tommy Boy (1995) with David Spade

Gad will also be looking to ensure his depiction captures Farley’s emotionality by showing the depth of his relationships and his demons; After being fired from SNL, Farley had a burgeoning movie career, which included Tommy Boy (1995) with David Spade

Along with the Farley biopic, Hauser’s other upcoming roles also include the Naked Gun reboot, The Fantastic Four and Inside Out 2.

SNL creator and longtime producer Lorne Michaels is also onboard as a producer on the film through his Broadway Video banner.

Chris Farley was found dead inside his Chicago apartment in December 1997, which the Cook County Medical Examiner attributed to an accidental overdose of cocaine and morphine.

The Farley biopic is still in its initial phase of production so there’s no word on a projected premiere date just yet.
 

  

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