N.W.A biopic finds its Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube

N.W.A. members, from left, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Yella and M.C. Ren.
(Darin Pappas / Ruthless Records)

It’s been a winding path for “Straight Outta Compton,” Universal’s biopic about the groundbreaking gangsta-rap group N.W.A., but the film has taken a significant step forward by casting its three leading men, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Classically trained actor Marcus Callender will play Dr. Dre; relative unknown Jason Mitchell will play Eazy-E; and Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., will play his father, THR reports. Cube, Dre and Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Wright, who have cast and script approval, are said to have signed off on the trio of newcomers.



Universal announced June 18 that Corey Hawkins will play Dr. Dre, not Callender. Hawkins has appeared in “Non-Stop” and “Iron Man 3.”

Also, an earlier version of this post said Mitchell does not have an acting background. He has played small roles in films including “Broken City” and “Contraband.”

Callender is an alum of the New York Shakespeare Lab at the Public Theater who has also appeared in bit parts on “Blue Bloods” and “Elementary.” Mitchell has played small roles in “Broken City” and “Contraband,” and reportedly nailed his screen test.

Cube had been lobbying for his son, who raps under the name OMG, to play him for some time. In February, he told the Guardian, “I’ve been trying to get that pushed along. Just wanna make sure that he’s the best man for the job.”

Principal photography for “Straight Outta Compton,” which has been in the works for more than five years and gone through four writers, is finally scheduled to start in less than two months.

F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”) is directing, and Jonathan Herman wrote the latest draft of the screenplay previously worked on by Alan Wenkus, S. Leigh Savidge and Andrea Berloff.

The movie takes its name from N.W.A.’s 1988 debut album, which first put gangsta rap on the map with its street-level view of the violence and brutality of gang-ridden South Los Angeles. The album laid the foundation of West Coast hip-hop for years to come and sold more than 3 million copies. It was certified double platinum in 1992.


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