Long rumored for the role, Frozen and The Wedding Ringer actor Josh Gad will reportedly play film critic Roger Ebert in the upcoming biopic Russ & Roger, which chronicles Ebert’s relationship with filmmaker Russ Meyer while the pair made the 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Gad will star opposite Will Ferrell in the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Ferrell taking on the role of the controversial writer/director known for soft-core pulp films Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, among other low-budget, high-sex projects.
Originally titled Russ & Roger Go Beyond, the biopic chronicles the pair’s work together on the satirical, cult-classic, “X”-rated film about the rise and fall of a female rock group. Rife with drug use, nudity, and violence, the film was co-written by Ebert and Meyer, with the latter insisting that the Chicago Sun critic assist him in drafting the script after Ebert gave him a rare positive review of his earlier work.
With Gad and Ferrell in the lead roles, the film will depict Ebert and Meyer’s struggle to make the film and retain its edgy rating despite intense pressure from studio 20th Century Fox. The film ended up grossing more than $9 million on a $900,000 budget, and Ebert later indicated that the film has earned more than $40 million over time due to theatrical revivals and video sales.
Meyer died in 2004 after directing more than 25 short- and feature-length films, including several documentaries. He frequently described as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as his definitive work in cinema. Ebert died in 2013 after a long battle with cancer.
Russ & Roger will feature a script by Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons writer Christopher Cluess.
There’s currently no timetable for Russ & Roger to begin production.