‘Belushi’ Paints a ‘Remarkable Portrait’ of the Fearless and Volcanic Comedian

John Belushi in Showtime's 'Belushi'
Richard McCaffrey/Courtesy of SHOWTIME.

Who knew that the volcanic force of raw comic energy we knew as John Belushi could compose love letters that touch the heart?

His romantic writings to soulmate and widow Judy are among the revelations of R.J. Cutler’s remarkable Belushi, a portrait of the Saturday Night Live and Animal House superstar who died tragically young at 33 of a drug overdose in 1982.

Benefiting from copious audiotapes of candid interviews for an oral biography, Belushi — which premieres on Showtime Sunday, November 22 — features the voices of fellow performers and others who admired his fearless talent while lamenting his reckless appetites. “The more they tried to control him, the more insane it got,” recalls his Blues Brothers costar Carrie Fisher. 

“I see myself as a new type,” Belushi growls to an interviewer who dared to pigeonhole him. Restless enough to resent Chevy Chase becoming the instant star of SNL‘s first season, he soon broke through with his bold and disarmingly unpredictable range.

Belushi Showtime

(Credit: Judy Belushi Pisano/Courtesy of SHOWTIME)

Photographs and vintage clips depict his trajectory from Chicago stage and radio shows to TV and movie fame. “He was high on his success,” Judy says. “But he was unsure of what people wanted from him.” The answer, then and now, is more.

Belushi, Documentary Premiere, Sunday, November 22, 9/8c, Showtime