Lately, biopic films have become something of a staple in Hollywood. From stories like "King Richards"— a film that outlined the life of Richard Williams as he trained his daughter Serena and Venus Williams— to the most recent release of Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," these films detail the lives of famous celebrities, and we can't seem to get enough of it.
It's because of all these new films being released that we've chosen to take a look at a highly celebrated biopic film that followed one of the most popular groups in the music industry, "Straight Outta Compton." Director and producer F. Gary Gray managed to create a widely celebrated film about the historic rap group N.W.A. The film scored an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and was given 3.5 out of 4 stars by Rolling Stone. The magazine said that "the groundbreaking gangsta rap group N.W.A gets the biopic they deserve." With that being said, let's take a look at some relatively unknown facts about "Straight Outta Compton" that are sure to surprise you.
Michael B. Jordan almost played Dr. Dre
Warner Bros. Pictures
Before Michael B. Jordan became a Marvel superstar with his roleas Erik Killmongerin "Black Panther," he portrayed Jonny Storm in the 2015 reboot film "Fantastic Four." And while this wasn't Jordan's first introduction to the superhero genre, it was his biggest superhero role to date. Unfortunately, the film tanked at the box office, which was likely a huge bummer for the actor, as his role of Jonny Storm also cost him the part of a young Dr. Dre in "Straight Outta Compton."
According to CinemaBlend, Jordan was set to play the iconic rapper in the film but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with "Fantastic Four." Jordan was a favorite by Dre to take on the role and was disappointed when the actor was no longer able to portray his younger self. Without the star power that Jordan represented, as he was becoming a well-known face in Hollywood, there were concerns that "Straight Outta Compton" wouldn't be given the green light for production. However, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the film would be moving forward regardless, as production looked toward relatively unknown faces for the roles in order to create the best possible film.
In the end, actor Corey Hawkins took on the role of Dre. Following his performance, Hawkins blew up with roles in "The Walking Dead," "24: Legacy," and "BlacKkKlansman."
Eazy E's son was considered for the film
Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson Jr. auditioned to play the role of his father. As the two look incredibly alike, it was a no-brainer to have him visually take on the part. However, Jackson Jr. was still expected to audition to ensure that he could act the part, as well (via People). This was also the case with Eazy-E's son Eric Wright Jr., aka Lil Eazy-E. As he looks similar to his father, he was considered to take on the role but was passed for the opportunity as the character in the film required more range than Wright Jr. was able to portray (via Rolling Stone).
Once Jason Mitchell was cast to play Eazy-E, there were reports circling that Wright Jr. was upset over the casting. However, he went to Rolling Stone to clear the air, stating that he "reached out to [Mitchell] to give him the support and any advice he needs. He has a big burden on his shoulders to bring forth the character and legacy of my father and the legacy of N.W.A., period." He believes that the casting choice was a wonderful homage to his father's legacy and that despite TMZ's report, he wasn't mad over being passed on the role, just disappointed.
A crucial scene about Dr. Dre was cut
Although "Straight Outta Compton" has been praised for its story, acting, and music, there were still some darker elements of N.W.A. that were ultimately not in the film. One of the biggest pieces of criticism that the film received was how it opted to cut out Dr. Drer's 1991 assault of journalist Denise "Dee" Barnes. Dre has been called out for his violent behavior against women in the past, which he has vaguely responded to. However, with the release of "Straight Outta Compton" refueling the discussion, Dre released an apology statement to The New York Times for his past mistakes, saying, "I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
According to Rolling Stone, director and producer F. Gary Gray did film a scene detailing the attack between Dre and Barnes. However, he opted to cut the scene out of the film in order to focus more on N.W.A. as a whole, believing that the assault between Dre and Barnes was a story all on its own.
Suge Knight caused problems during filming
Suge Knight is one of the most prominent record label owners from the '90s. His label, Death Row Records, helped launch the careers of Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and Dr. Dre's solo career. However, he has been known to engage in violent altercations, which has made him one of the most notorious figures in the music industry (via The U.S. Sun).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Suge Knight invited himself on set during the production of "Straight Outta Compton." It was reported that he got into an argument with someone regarding how his character was being portrayed in the film. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department told the Los Angeles Times that Knight and two men were arguing on set, revealing that one of the two was a member of the film crew. The two men left and were followed by Knight, who then ran them over in the parking lot before leaving the scene. This altercation resulted in the death of one man.
Knight is currently serving 28 years in prison (via The Guardian).
The 'Bye, Felicia' line was adlib
Ice Cube sat down with Timeto discuss "Straight Outta Compton" and revealed a fun behind-the-scenes moment that managed to make its way into the film. Ice Cube discussed how the line "Bye, Felicia" that his son says in the movie was entirely adlib between O'Shea Jackson Jr. and director F. Gary Gray.
Here's the thing: Gray was the director behind the 1995 cult-classic film "Friday," which starred Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. The scene in question shows the character Felicia (Angela Means-Kaaya) asking Smokey (Chris Tucker) to borrow a few things. When Smokey adamantly tells her no, Craig Jones (Ice Cube) dismisses her by saying, "Bye, Felicia." Fast forward to 2015, when "Straight Outta Compton" was released, and Ice Cube tells Time that his son and Gray were discussing their scene, which featured a girl named Felicia. Together, the two decided that inserting the line "Bye, Felicia" would be appropriate for the scene and the audience. According to Bustle, that line has since become a meme and was trending on social media after the release of "Straight Outta Compton."
Theaters hired extra security for the film's release
According to Rolling Stone, some movie theaters chose to hire more security for the opening-weekend screenings of "Straight Outta Compton." While each movie screening went off without any incidents, Universal announced that they would provide reimbursements towards those theaters that decided to hire more security for the film. This was something that the L.A. Live screening in downtown Los Angeles took the production up on.
"Straight Outta Compton" features footage of police brutality from the 1991 beating of Rodney King at the hands of L.A. police officers. The officers were later acquitted without any punishment, which resulted in the 1992 L.A. riots that lasted for three days. As issues of police brutality continue to be an ongoing problem, especially in America, theaters took precautions in communities that are most affected by these acts of violence. And after the recent attack on "The Dark Knight" screening in a movie theater in 2012 (just three years prior to the release of "Straight Outta Compton"), companies likely wanted to take as many precautions as they could (via Dazed).
Founding member Arabian Prince was left out of the film
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
One of the biggest changes made in "Straight Outta Compton" was the exclusion of one of the group's founding members, Arabian Prince, born Kim Nazel. And while he's not mad about being completely left out of the film, he admitted on Facebook that it does hurt to have history be changed in such a staggering way (via HuffPost).
After the release of the film, Prince shared his story with HuffPost, stating that during the early days of N.W.A., most of the equipment used to produce their music was his. He alleged that he was working as a solo artist before the group was formed. In the film, when Ice Cube was upset over money and his treatment under Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), Prince says that he was the one that first brought it up as he felt used. As a result, he quit the group before they released the hit "Straight Outta Compton." Since then, Prince has made his own music, which was sampled in Fergie's 2006 "Fergalicious" and Eminem's 2013 "Rap God."
Prince alleged on "The Goin Way Back Show" that he was cut from the film due to the fact that he sued Ruthless Records after the death of Eazy-E (via AFH). And, as Eazy's wife was a producer on the film, he assumes bad blood was the cause for his exclusion from the story.
The N.W.A. reunion is showcased differently in the film
Toward the end of the film, Eazy-E reaches out to Ice Cube, asking him how he would feel about reuniting N.W.A. Ice Cube agrees, providing that Jerry Heller is no longer involved, prompting Eazy to fire his longtime manager. Eazy-Ethen reaches out to Dr. Dre, who immediately agrees to the group's reunion. Unfortunately, before they're able to get everyone back together, Eazy passes away from AIDS, leaving Dr. Dre devastated. He states that he created an amazing song for the group to perform.
However, Ice Cube revealed to The Guardian that the truth was a little different than what the film portrayed. According to Ice Cube, while he had signed on to return for a reunion, Dr. Dre had not, as he and Eazy weren't getting along at the time. This was also confirmed by the rapper Cold 187um, who stated that at the time, Dr. Dre wasn't scheduled to produce new songs for N.W.A.
Tupac was played by two different people
You might remember Tupac's short scene-stealing moment in "Straight Outta Compton," but what you might not be aware of is the fact that it took two actors to bring the legend to our screens.
Tupac was portrayed in the film by Marcc Rose. Rose told USA Today that he's used to being stopped on the street because he resembles Tupac so strongly. When he heard that "Straight Outta Compton" was casting for the role of Tupac, he packed up his life in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles for the part. While Rose could walk the walk, he, unfortunately, couldn't talk the talk. The actor was unable to rap like Tupac, so the studio hired Darris Love to step in and rap as the voice for the iconic artist. For his part, Love had hoped to portray Tupac in a biopic and had been preparing years for the role (via Bustle). Unfortunately, a biopic called "All Eyez on Me" was made without either Rose or Love in 2017, as actor Demetrius Shipp Jr. ultimately played the character.
DJ Jazzy Jeff worked on the film
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When you think of DJ Jazzy Jeff, your mind likely goes to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," as he portrayed Will's loveable if-not somewhat gullible friend Jazz. However, Jazzy Jeff (born Jeffrey Allen Townes) is more than just Will Smith's friend— he has an accomplished career as a DJ, and it's his career that allowed him to join the production of "Straight Outta Compton."
In aninterview with DubCNN in 2020, Jazzy Jeff discussed how he was involved with the film and his relationship with Dr. Dre, stating that they've "always been cool." When Dre reached out to him about the project, he said that he wanted to work with a DJ who understood the time period and the lifestyle. Jazzy Jeff said that he was the only person Dre considered bringing on. He told the network that Dre appreciated his work because he was able to recapture the energy in the song "Weak at the Knees." He attended the premiere of the film and found the entire experience to be amazing.