Pauly Shore is playing Richard Simmons in both a new Sundance Film Festival short film and a feature project in development
Fitness guru Richard Simmons is getting the biopic treatment — with a lookalike actor playing him.
Pauly Shore, who in September said he “can definitely morph into” Simmons in response to a viral meme, will play the media icon in a feature-length film from Warner Bros. subsidiary The Wolper Organization, per The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets.
“We all need this biopic now more than ever,” Shore, 55, said in a statement announcing the film. “Simmons represented mental health, getting people in shape and being his authentic silly self! Whenever he was on TV you could never take your eyes off of him and he brought such a joy to his appearances that represented nothing but a good time.”
The news coincides with Shore’s short film The Court Jester in which he plays Simmons, 75. The short premieres this week in Park City, Utah during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
In September, the Encino Man actor told PEOPLE he and Simmons were friends back in the day. "I would always see him driving his Rolls Royce down Sunset Boulevard in the '80s and '90s, waving to everyone, and he'd always pull over and say hi," Shore recalls. "We'd mess around, and he'd come and see my mom Mitzi at the Comedy Store. It was just mutual joy when we'd see each other."
Shore also reiterated his enthusiasm for the idea of playing Simmons onscreen after a viral meme posted side-by-side images of the two, captioning it, “Someone is going to write a Richard Simmons biopic and Pauly Shore is going to win an Oscar."
He and Simmons are “both very physical, we're both over the top and silly,” he told PEOPLE. “So there are all those parallels that make sense."
The upcoming feature film is being developed as a "dramatic and heartfelt feature in the tone of Little Miss Sunshine,” Mark Wolper of The Wolper Organization said, per Variety. The production company, Wolper said, had “been dancing around the idea for years, but it never coalesced until several months ago when I saw the press about Pauly Shore being touted by social media as the ONLY person that could play Richard.”
Wolper’s statement continued, “I saw the picture of them and realized these two are very similar, they both lived or died by how the world perceived them, they both fought to give their fans what they wanted and they both deserve an amazing comeback story!”
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Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in an interview posted Wednesday, Shore said “I am him” in regards to Simmons. "I like helping people. I like health. I like putting that energy out there.”
“My brother is fine,” his older brother Lenny Simmons told PEOPLE in 2017. “He’s not sick. There’s nothing medically wrong with him at all.”
Asked whether he communicated with Simmons about playing him in the feature-length project, Shore told EW, “His people responded and they said that he loves me… but at this time he just wants to lay low and not really be involved. That was his response.”
The actor added, “My attitude is: If we build it, he'll come. That's my hope. My hope is that he sees that it looks good, it feels good, it's right. And then he might just say, f--- it at some point — ‘I'm down. I'll help you guys, I'll be part of it.’”
Shore’s most recent live-action credit was the 2021 film How It Ends, in which he appeared as himself.
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