NEW YORK — The last time I saw Josh Gad, he was sitting at the desk in my Sun-Times office, more than a year ago. He had been visitingto chat with Roger Ebert’s colleagues because Gad was to portray Ebert in “Russ & Roger Go Beyond,” a film about the then-little-known critic being tapped by director Russ Meyer to pen the script for “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”
“I may pay you another visit in the near future,” said Gad with a wink, revealing that the long-brewing movie “finally looks like it’s a go — hopefully for a January start date.
“I hope it comes together quickly. It’s a great story that needs to be told.” While Gad said he hoped a bit of the film may be shot in Chicago, “you have to realize this movie is about Los Angeles and the experience of Roger making ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'”
Gad is scheduled to return to town Oct. 12 for a screening of his new film “Marshall” on opening night of the Chicago International Film Festival.
Best known for recent comedic or musical comedy roles (“Frozen,” “The Book of Mormon,” “The Wedding Ringer,” “Beauty and the Beast”), Gad is cast in a very dramatic role as Samuel Friedman in the film that focuses on the 1940s murder trial of an African-American chauffeur charged with raping and attempting to kill his socialite employer. Friedman was a Connecticut attorney reluctantly pulled into the case, as the legal sponsor of Thurgood Marshall(played by Chadwick Boseman) who was the accused’s NAACP lawyer.
“I trained as a dramatic actor and somehow fell into comedy,” Gad said. “I’ve come full circle now. It’s refreshing to do material this good.”