Notorious Will Be Anything But - B.I.G.'s Actor Revealed
Despite what seems like a broad disinterest in Fox's new film NOTORIOUS among my peers, my curiosity is slightly peeked with the news that the film is set to begin principal photography next week, being that the studio has finally found an actor that can fill the large - and I mean large - shoes of the late Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G. - a young, new Jamal Woolard (pictured right in the image above). He certainly has the look, which is near the most important attribute to get right. It's hard to fake 6'3" and 350+ pounds. Despite the moniker, I have a feeling this film is going to be anything but notorious.
Most probably recall the rapper's infamous career and early death. A still-unknown assailant murdered Wallace in 1997 in Los Angeles in a drive-by shooting. The late 24 year-old had a fascinating history by most accounts. However, I don't think much of what a lot of people deem the "juicy details" will be brought out in the movie. Wallace's mother, Voletta, is receiving a producer's credit, so I can't imagine a controversial light being cast on her late son.
NY Mag supports this watering down theory as well. After reading the script for the biopic last month, they say that "Notorious — on paper, at least — plays like a loose-knit highlight reel; it's basically the screenplay adaptation of Biggie's Wikipedia entry…there's no real explanation given for how he went from enthusiastic fan to one of hip-hop's all-time…by page 30, he's signed to Puffy's label, and from there it's a mad, tensionless dash to the end." This doesn't exactly have the depth and investigation we'd expect from such a well-known artist whose murder is still unsolved. I'm sorry, but there's little escaping an eye towards that little detail.
Other combustible details you can expect won't be included in the film, as well, pertain to Wallace and Sean Combs' feud with fellow rapper Tupac Shakur. Consider this intriguing scenario: At a high level you have the kings of rap from the West coast and East coast in an ongoing reportedly violent feud with one another; in September 1996 one is killed in a drive-by shooting, while the other is murdered in the same manner almost six months later; both crimes are still unsolved. As they say, you can't make this stuff up.
However, apparently one guy can, if you believe Wallace's camp. How coincidental it is that Chuck Phillips of the LA Times runs with a story today speculating more strongly than ever the violent link between Christopher Wallace, Sean Combs, and Tupac Shakur. Specifically, Phillips, who has reported on the two rappers' history for a long time, suggests that Wallace and Combs knew Shakur was going to be attacked in 1994. The burgeoning rapper was jumped outside of a New York studio and suffered five gun shot wounds. Wallace's mother and fellow associates say this is untrue, of course. Regardless, Phillips' story is a fascinating read, even if it might be a bit fictitious; some question the reporter's sources and credibility. Hell, fiction or not, it's a great story and it'd make a great movie. This story is notorious.
There's no point in arguing how debase it is for us to focus on the controversy and want to see the fiery side of this story, however speculative it might be. It's the voyeuristic, turkey-neck nature of viewers. But, folks will have to settle with a more upbeat take on Christopher Wallace's life in this film. Not that this doesn't have merit - the guy was an incredible artist and made music history - but it's a bit hard to enjoy a story like this when you realize so much isn't being told.
If you're interested in following the film's development, check out Notorious producer Wayne Barrow's blog here.