Producer Tyler Levine
Secures Phil Hartman Life Rights
And Gets His Phil
After nearly two decades since his tragic death, a Phil Hartman feature film is finally in development, tentatively titled ‘Nice Guy Phil.’
Casting the lead for a biopic on legendary comedian and impersonator Phil Hartman proved nearly impossible.
“We held auditions for the past five months,” says Carousel Pictures Producer Tyler Levine.
Affectionately known as ‘The Man of A Thousand Voices,’ Phil Hartman was responsible for 75 different Saturday Night Live characters and 25 unique Simpsons voices.
The role remained uncast until Levine got a call from Simpsons’ Troy McClure – or at least, his clone. It was actor Daran Norris on the other line. Norris prepared two audition tapes which were based on actual Phil Hartman performances.
“Norris’ similarity to Hartman is uncanny – the auditions were so similar to Phil Hartman’s original performances it gave me chills. Plus, the way Norris fought for the role took real chutzpah – just like Phil would have done,” says Levine.
The screenplay is penned by Jonas Chernick (My Awkward Sexual Adventure), and will be directed by Jason Priestley, both award-winning actors like Phil was.
“I wanted people behind the camera that can relate to the unique pressure that comes in front of the camera,” said Levine.
Priestley met Hartman when he hosted SNL in 1992. “Knowing I was a Canadian like him, Phil treated me differently. He was a hero of mine. Still is. I’m excited to tell his story,” said Priestley.
Levine secured the life rights from the late comedian’s estate in 2013, a feat in itself. It took years to convince the Estate of Phil Hartman that he would honour Phil’s story properly. A portion of the proceeds will be allocated to Phil and Brynn Hartman’s children, Birgen and Sean.
The film development has been generously supported by Telefilm and The Cogeco Fund and will be produced by Levine’s company, Carousel Pictures.
To be shot in both Canada and the U.S., production is slated for Summer 2016.