Playing a fictional character well can be a difficult task for actors, but for many, portraying someone who was really existed can be equally challenging, if not more so. This is especially the case for larger-than-life performers, like original Saturday Night Live cast member John Belushi. The Blues Brothers star will be one of the many figures being represented in the Netflix movie about National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney, and Broad City’s John Gemberling has been tapped to play the beloved comedian.
According to a report from The Wrap, Gemberling has joined A Futile & Stupid Gesture as John Belushi. Directed by Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain, the movie will follow Doug Kinney, who was editor of the Harvard Lampoon and later co-founded the National Lampoon humor magazine, but also struggled with personal demons until his mysterious death in 1980. In addtion to appearing in the National Lampoon Lemmings stage show and contributing to the The National Lampoon Radio Hour, Belushi starred in National Lampoon's Animal House as John "Bluto" Blutarsky before his overdose in 1982. A John Belushi biopic was also in development several years back, but there’s hasn’t been any update on its progress recently.
As you can tell from the above picture, John Gemberling is a great physical match to play John Belushi, from the beard (which Belushi occasionally wore) to similar build. It was also wise that they cast a comedian rather than a regular actor, as it will be easier for Gemberling to get the hang of capturing Belushi’s mannerisms and comedic style. Given Belushi’s connections to Kenney, we can assume that Gemberling’s portrayal will be seen during most of the '70s, including moments showing Animal House’s production, both behind-the-scenes and maybe on-camera. No doubt Gemberling will be watching early SNL episodes, Animal House, The Blues Brothers and various interviews to get a sense of how to play Belushi properly.
If you want a taste of Gemberling’s comedic chops, take a look at this sketch from UCB Live! three years back.
Gemberling is the latest actor to play Belushi in a movie, preceded by Eric Siegel, Tyler Labine and Michael Chiklis. In addition to his recurring role as Matt Bevers on Broad City, his other credits include Super Fun Night, Marry Me and The Heart, She Holler. Gemberling’s A Futile & Stupid Gesture cast-mates include Will Forte as Doug Kenney, Domhnall Gleeson as Henry Beard and Joel McHale as Chevy Chase. With such a talented cast and an intriguing (though tragic) story, this movie likes it will be one of Netflix’s more unique offerings in the near future.
We’ll keep you updated on any developments surrounding A Futile & Stupid Gesture, but production is expected to begin something next month.