Richard Simmons, the famously reclusive fitness guru, has broken his long silence to speak out against an upcoming biopic about his life starring Pauly Shore. Simmons asserts that he never gave Shore permission to make the film, slated to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
Simmons Issues Rare Public Statement Denouncing the Biopic
In a rare public statement released on January 18th, Simmons said “We have never met and I have never agreed to this,” referring to Shore’s biopic titled The Court Jester. The 75-year-old exercise icon, who has avoided the spotlight for nearly a decade, felt compelled to clarify that he is not involved with the film in any capacity.
Simmons called the movie “not authorized” and implored Shore to respect his privacy. He disappeared from the public eye in 2014 and has guarded his privacy ever since.
Pauly Shore Responds, Says He Hopes Simmons Will Come Around to Support the Film
Pauly Shore, who co-wrote, directed and stars in The Court Jester as Simmons, responded that he still hopes the fitness guru will change his mind.
“I have nothing but love and respect for Richard,” Shore told ET. “I hope when he sees the movie he’ll understand we did it with nothing but respect and love.”
Shore shared that he’s long felt a kinship with Simmons as a misunderstood entertainer. He aims to tell Simmons’ story from an empathetic perspective.
The Court Jester Focuses on Simmons’ Sudden 2014 Withdrawal from Public Life
According to early reviews from industry publications like Variety and IndieWire, The Court Jester focuses on Richard Simmons’ abrupt disappearance from the spotlight in 2014. After building a fitness empire off his flamboyant persona, beloved classes, and infomercial fame, he suddenly stopped appearing in public with no explanation.
The film covers conspiracy theories around his withdrawal while dramatizing Simmons’ inner turmoil over his complicated relationship with fame.
|Pauly Shore as Richard Simmons
|Tia Carrere, Pauly Shore, Hank Azaria
|January 23, 2024 at Sundance Film Festival
Simmons Has Been Extremely Private Since 2014, Prompting Speculation
Richard Simmons rose to fame in the 80’s, becoming a household name with his signature bouffant hair, short shorts, and vibrant persona. His fitness classes, videos, and talk show appearances made him both famous and ridiculed.
In 2014 when he was 65 years old, Simmons abruptly stopped teaching classes and appearing in public without explanation. He remains out of the spotlight to this day, living quietly at his Hollywood Hills mansion.
His sudden withdrawal from public life has sparked various rumors about his health, sexuality, and relationship with fame. Shore seeks to explore these theories in his unauthorized biopic.
Shore Says He Identifies with Simmons’ Complex Relationship with Fame
Pauly Shore relates to Richard Simmons’ unconventional public persona and complicated relationship with celebrity culture. As the director and star of The Court Jester, Shore aims to portray Simmons with empathy and dimension.
“He had to play a character most of the time because people didn’t take him seriously,” Shore told Variety. “I identify with that, people thinking you’re a goofball and there’s probably more under the hood.”
Shore shared that his film will touch on popular conspiracy theories about why Simmons disappeared while also humanizing the fitness icon. Shore himself has grappled with the fickle nature of Hollywood fame.
What Will Happen Next?
It remains to be seen whether Pauly Shore’s unauthorized biopic will face any legal challenges from Richard Simmons. As The Court Jester premieres at Sundance this week, the film may garner accusations of exploiting Simmons’ story without consent. Shore asserts his intentions are well-meaning, but criticism seems inevitable given Simmons’ adamant rejection of the project.
How movie-goers and the entertainment press receive The Court Jester could impact Shore’s hopes of expanding it into a feature film. While biopics made without subject approval are not unprecedented in Hollywood, Simmons’ forceful objection throws this one into questionable ethical territory.
If the short film gains traction, it’s possible Simmons may take further steps to distance himself from the movie. The reclusive icon clearly feels Shore violated his privacy despite intentions to pay tribute. For now, Shore says he wishes Simmons would see the film before judging it harshly. But if legal threats or public backlash ensues, Shore’s passion project could quickly land in hot water.
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