Just days after Eddie Murphy signed on to star in Dolemite Is My Name, as Dolemite star Rudy Ray Moore, the rest of the cast is coming together for this Netflix biopic. Wesley Snipes has come aboard to star as Dolemite director and co-star D’Urville Martin, who is described as an, “arrogant actor and alcoholic.” Also joining the cast is Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, although no details have been given about the characters they’re playing. Production is slated to begin this week in Los Angeles.
Rudy Ray Moore came from humble beginnings, born the son of a sharecropper in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1927. He lived in Cleveland and Milwaukee, Wisconsin holding a variety of jobs before joining the U.S. Army, serving in an entertainment unit where he first developed his love of comedy. Upon his discharge, he relocated to Seattle then Los Angeles, where he was discovered by record producer Dootsie Williams and put out his first comedy albums. It wasn’t until 1970, though, that his most iconic creation, Dolemite, was born.
Moore was working at a record store in Hollywood in 1970 where he was told crazy stories about a local man known only as “Dolemite.” Moore decided to turn himself into this Dolemite, and recorded three new comedy albums between 1970 and 1971, Eat Out More Often, This P—y Belongs To Me and The Dirty Dozens. He recorded these albums at his own home and had friends over during the recordings to simulate a party type of atmosphere. While the records were too racy to be sold in mainstream stores, they were popular enough in black communities that Moore used the funds from those album sales to finance the 1975 film Dolemite, considered to be one of the most popular and iconic blaxploitation films of that era.
Moore played the title character, a pimp/nightclub owner who is serving 20 years in jail after being set up by his longtime rival, Willie Green (D’Urville Martin). A fellow pimp named Queen Bee (Lady Reed) helps Dolemite escape from prison, so he and his group of prostitutes trained in martial arts, can exact his revenge on Willie for setting him up. The film lead to others such as The Human Tornado, The Monkey Hustle and Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-In-Law. Dolemite and Moore himself were highly influential to several rappers, earning him the nickname the “Godfather of Rap,” and he was mentioned in songs by Snoop Dogg, and Moore himself appeared in albums from Big Daddy Kane and 2 Live Crew.
Moore would later return as Dolemite in the 2000 film Big Money Hustlas, which starred the controversial Detroit rap group Insane Clown Posse. Moore passed away in October 2008 in Akron, Ohio, from complications to diabetes. Craig Brewer is directing Dolemite Is My Name from a script by biopic gurus Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who have written biopics such as Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon, Big Eyes and they created the critically-acclaimed first season of American Crime Story entitled The People Vs. O.J. Simpson. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on Snipes’ casting, who was last seen in Chi-Raq.