The N.W.A. movie casting saga continues, with word this afternoon (according to The Wrap) that Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray have cast Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., to play Cube in Universal’s biopic "Straight Outta Compton," although Universal has yet to confirm the casting.
You'll recall that both Eazy E's son and daughter previously claimed that they were either in the running, or would be the best fits to play their father in the movie; The son said that there was a "high probability" that he'd play the part; the daughter just wanted her shot. She even created an audition video, demonstrating her chameleon skills, which you can watch HERE.
When asked about all of that about a year ago, producer Ice Cube said that no promises had been made to anyone regarding casting, and everyone was going to have to earn whatever role is given to them.
In a recent interview with The Guardian in the UK earlier this year, when asked about rumors that his son, O'Shea Jackson Jr would be playing him in the film, Ice Cube shared: "Yes. I've been trying to get that pushed along. Just wanna make sure that he's the best man for the job."
He added that his son reminded him of himself at that age, stating: "At that age people think that I was all serious and mean, but there was a mixture of hot and cold. I could turn on a dime. And he has my temperament."
So obviously Ice and director Gray believe O'Shea Jr is indeed the best man for the job.
Cube had a few more things to say about the upcoming project: "We're getting the script tight and we're starting to cast. Hopefully we'll start shooting in April. We've had a few different writers; we're still working that out. We're going for 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."
He also said that none of the real members of NWA will be in the film; not even in cameos apparently.
In April this year, it was revealed that Michael B. Jordan was at the top of the list of actors producers of the film were considering for roles in the biopic. But the currently in-demand Jordan wasn't available. Group member Dr Dre reportedly wanted Jordan to play him in the film, which, frankly, I can't immediately picture.
You'll recall director F. Gary Gray's long-standing assertions that unknown actors would be cast to play the film's leads, especially given what is expected to be a relatively slim budget (by Hollywood standards). There have even been multiple open casting calls, primarily on the west coast, over the last year or so - most recently, in March, in Los Angeles.
In addition, it was reported that some footage has already been shot (not actual footage from the film - more like a promo for the group), but done in order to qualify for California's expiring film tax credit, and which will apparently be used in a presentation to Universal Pictures, the studio backing the project.
That presentation was said to be scheduled for early May; but no reports on what the outcome was. Although with today's news, we can assume that the project is still a go.
Originally set up at New Line, Universal picked up the sub-$25 million project in turnaround, with F. Gary Gray still attached to direct. John Singleton was, at one time, interested in directing.
Also worth noting, Eazy-E's widow, Tomica Woods, who inherited his share of NWA song rights, is also said to be involved, as a producer. This was when the project was languishing at New Line. At the time, Andrea Berloff, who wrote the screenplay to Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center," was to pen the script. Jonathan Herman (whose only IMDB writing credit is for an erotic short film titled "Firepussy") is writing a new draft.
But for its part, Universal Pictures recently said that any delays in getting the project off the ground have had more to do with getting the Cube and Dre together (who are both incredibly busy), to focus on it, than anything else.
F. Gary Gray told Rolling Stone in a March interview that what he was looking that "certain thing that a person from the hood has," adding that, "there are times where a thespian can get there and give it to you, sometimes they can't, and street credibility it's just that thing. When you watch American Idol and they have that 'It Factor' – there's a 'Hood Factor.' You get the authenticity when you're in an environment likes this, and you have an open call, and I've been seeing that, and I'm pretty happy with it."
The upcoming film was set to begin shooting this summer for a release next year, according to producers; but given that it hasn't been fully cast yet, I'd expect shoot dates to be pushed back. Unless further announcements are just around the corner.
Will Packer and Cube Vision’s Matt Alvarez are also producing.