Tyrese Gibson to star as R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass in biopic
Tyrese Gibson is getting back to his music roots to portray an R&B icon. The singer-turned-actor is set to play Teddy Pendergrass in an upcoming biopic, for which Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired Pendergrass’ life rights.
Little Marvin is writing the screenplay, with Donald De Line (Ready Player One), Lee Daniels (The Butler, TV’s Empire), and Gibson producing. Pendergrass’ widow, Joan Pendergrass, is on board as an executive producer.
Raised by a single mother in Philadelphia, Pendergrass rose to fame in the early 1970s as the lead singer Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and went on to success as a solo artist. But his life was upended in 1982 when a near-fatal car crash left him paralyzed from the chest down. After struggling to recover from the accident, Pendergrass learned to sing all over again and made an emotional return to the stage at the historic Live Aid concert in London in 1985. He continued performing for two decades, retired in 2007, and died in 2010.
“I am honored to take this journey… This is the role that I feel I was born to play,” Gibson said in a statement. “Teddy Pendergrass embraced me and before he passed, put the responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story. Being here in this time and in this space and moment with Lee Daniels, Donald De Line, Little Marvin, and Warner Bros. is an answered prayer. Teddy, I just hope we make you, your wife and family proud… Here we go!”
A six-time Grammy nominee, Gibson is also known for his work in the blockbuster Fast and Furious film franchise. His upcoming movies include the police drama Black & Blue and the ninth F&F movie.
Further details of the Pendergrass project, such as a title, director, and release date, have yet to be announced.