Finally, Universal’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton is moving forward, with news from The Wrap that Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) have cast Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. to play the rapper. The film, which was originally at New Line, has been in development for some time, but if Jackson has officially come aboard, that would suggest that Straight Outta Compton is at last getting close to rolling cameras.
Universal didn’t confirm the casting, but The Wrap claims that “multiple individuals” involved with the film have assured them that the part recently went to Jackson, despite his lack of acting experience. Don’t chalk the casting up to sheer nepotism, though – Cube auditioned multiple candidates, including professional rappers and established actors, before settling on Jackson.
The son of the late Eazy-E (whose widow is producing the film alongside Cube and Dr. Dre) was also in contention for a role at some point, though word is that he may lose out to a newcomer who succeeded in impressing the team working on Straight Outta Compton during his audition.
The film was scripted by Jonathan Herman, who has become one of Universal’s go-to writers over the past few years and is also scripting a psychological thriller called Demonologists for the studio. Herman’s script was described by Cube as:
“A dramatic story that encompasses hip-hop, dope-dealing, Reaganomics, AIDS, LAPD, rap feuds, FBI, PMRC, the Parental Advisory stickers on the records… all of it.”
If that description is at all accurate, Herman’s script sounds pretty ambitious, but Gray is a proven filmmaker and, with multiple members of N.W.A. also involved, Straight Outta Compton sounds like a winner for Universal (which has yet to green-light the project but seems extremely likely to). In its hey-day, N.W.A. was hugely influential, both to the rap genre and the climate of the late ’80s as a whole, so I’m very excited to see a film chronicling the group’s impact.
We’re expecting to hear more casting news related to Straight Outta Compton this week, so keep an eye on We Got This Covered, as we’ll be sure to bring you the latest as soon as we have it.