The Associated Press reports Fox Searchlight is expected to announce an open, online casting call for the role of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. for the upcoming biopic, Notorious. The film has reportedly been in the works for some seven years and is being produced by Biggie’s former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, and his mother, Voletta Wallace.
Barrow told reporters Forest Whitaker was the only Hollywood actor who came to mind when considering the part of Biggie (born Christopher Wallace), but the recent Academy-Award-winning actor was not approached on account of his age.
Instead, the producers are looking for a fresh face (i.e. cheap labor) who might see the opportunity to portray Wallace as the break of a lifetime.
“There will only be one Christopher Wallace, but I’m happy that his legacy will open a door for another to walk through,” Voletta Wallace said in a statement released to the Associated Press.
That “legacy” ended on March 9, 1997, when the 24-year-old Wallace was gunned down in Los Angeles.
The script was written by Cheo Hodari Coker and Reggae Rock Blythewood. Coker is a hip-hop journalist and author of the Wallace biography, Unbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. Producers say the film will focus on the private life Wallace led during his rise to fame and that George Tillman has been tapped to direct. Production is expected to begin this fall.
It’s debatable whether the personal life of Christopher Wallace merits the film treatment, and whether this project would’ve gotten off the ground were it not for his mother and former managers campaigning for it. Still, Voletta’s exploitation of her dead son pales in comparison to the grave/gold digging perpetuated by Afeni Shakur since the death of her son, Tupac, in September of 1996
Regardless of how you come down on the career and so-called legacy of Biggie Smalls, it’s worth your time to read the excellent piece from Rolling Stone that investigates his death. Now, that would make for a compelling film.
Would-be Wallaces can visit www.biggiecasting.com for more information. Godspeed.