Actor and comedian Paul Reubens, who died of cancer in July, will make his final film acting appearance in the fall Hulu release “Quiz Lady” — but not as his iconic alter ego, Pee-wee Herman.
The R-rated comedy, directed by Jessica Yu, stars Awkwafina and Sandra Oh as estranged sisters who reunite on a cross-country journey to compete on a game show. The movie had its world premiere Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Reubens appears in a cameo as himself in the 20th Century Studios release, which also stars Holland Taylor, Jason Schwartzman, Tony Hale, Jon “Dumbfoundead” Park and Will Ferrell.
As Pee-wee, Reubens starred on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” from 1986 to 1990 and took the beloved character to the big screen in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) and “Big Top Pee-wee” (1988).
The longtime children’s performer died July 30 at age 70. His private battle with cancer was revealed upon his death.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” he said in a statement announcing his death that was posted to Instagram. “I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”
Reubens’ career in film, TV and comedy spanned four decades, during which he was so closely linked to his Pee-wee persona that the fictional Herman’s name, not his own, was commemorated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988.
An appearance earlier this year voicing the character of Pat on “Bob’s Burgers” marked another of his final roles.
“Crazy Rich Asians” breakout Awkwafina stars in “Quiz Lady” as Anne, an introverted woman who reluctantly teams up with her chaotic sister Jenny (Oh) when their mother’s gambling debts lead to the kidnapping of her dog.
In a quest to win the ransom money, they plot to get Anne on her favorite game show and turn her into a quiz champion.
Reubens shot his brief scene opposite Taylor last June, a representative of the actor confirms. He also filmed interviews for an as-yet dated HBO documentary project produced by Josh and Benny Safdie, first announced in 2021.
The film is helmed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Yu (“In the Realms of the Unreal,” “Ping Pong Playa,” “Fosse/Verdon”) from a script by Jen D’Angelo (“Young Rock,” “Hocus Pocus 2”). The movie is produced by Oh and Awkwafina along with Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum for Gloria Sanchez Productions and Maggie Haskins and Itay Reiss for Artists First.
The Hulu Original film was shot last year in Los Angeles and will debut on the streaming platform Nov. 3.