When looking back at films that have gone down in history as cult classics, it’s difficult to visualize any changes being made. In 1991, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Robert Townsend came together to co-write a film adaption of the life and successes of The Five Heartbeats. The film was named after the supergroup and starred Townsend, Leon Robinson, Michael Wright, Tico Wells, and Harry J. Lennix—and according to Townsend, R. Kelly was close to being involved with the project.


Townsend, who also directed The Five Heartbeats, recently revealed to Page Six that R. Kelly and Niecy Nash showed up to an open casting call for the film. Townsend shared his Making The Five Heartbeats documentary that shows how the movie came together. “Keenen Ivory Wayans and I rewrote that script like 30 times, and what you will see is Niecy Nash on line at the open call audition,” Townsend told the outlet. “She was just a baby. Now she’s a Hollywood icon. R. Kelly is on line to audition at the Regal Theatre in Chicago.”

“He comes to me and he’s like, ‘Mr. Townsend I’m trying to be a songwriter for the movie,'” Townsend added. “He did play some music for me.” Additionally, Townsend revealed that Wayans was supposed to star in The Five Heartbeats as well, but his part went to Leon Robinson. “I saw Leon in the Madonna video ‘Like A Prayer,’ playing the Jesus figure and when I met him I thought he had a cool vibe to him. I thought he would be perfect for the role.”