The role of Notorious B.I.G. for an upcoming biopic on the rapper will be found through an open casting call, the film’s producers told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The still untitled Notorious B.I.G. project, which has been in the works for nearly seven years, will seek its star by auditioning actors and non-actors alike who resemble the rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace. Anyone can submit audition videos beginning 3 a.m. (EDT) Sunday to www.foxsearchlight.com/notorious or www.biggiecasting.com.
An official announcement of the online casting call will be made Friday by Fox Searchlight Pictures, which in 2005 secured the rights to a film about the slain rapper. Wallace’s mother, Voletta Wallace, and his two former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, are producing the movie.
“As it relates to the individual Christopher Wallace — his looks, his stature, what he represented, the swagger, the sensibility of the man — all those elements are very difficult to find, no matter where you go,” Barrow said Thursday. “In the typical Hollywood world, no one came to mind outside of Forest Whitaker who could capture that essence genuinely.”
Barrow said the film’s producers never approached Whitaker because — though he would have been ideal — at 46-years-old Whitaker is more than twice the age Wallace will be for much of the film. Wallace was gunned down at the age of 24 on March 9, 1997, after a music-industry party in Los Angeles.
In a statement released to the AP, Voletta Wallace described the qualities the producers are seeking.
“There will only be one Christopher Wallace, but I’m happy that his legacy will open a door for another to walk through,” said Wallace. “I don’t want you to just imitate him. I want to see his swagger, his style, his energy and smile come through.”
Though Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Shooter”) was two years ago reported to be close to agreeing to direct, Barrow confirmed that Fuqua will not helm the Wallace biopic. In an interview earlier this year with the AP, Fuqua said he was apprehensive about the degree of control the producers had in developing the script.
“They’re in the record business, they’re not in the film business,” Fuqua said then.
Barrow said he remains friends with Fuqua and that timing was the only issue. As of yet, no director has been named, but the producers expect to name someone soon.
That casting has already begun could chafe potential directors, but Barrow believes whoever takes the reins of the film will see that the open casting call “was something that needed to happen.”
The script was written by Cheo Hodari Coker and Reggie Rock Bythewood. Coker, a hip-hop journalist, wrote the biography “Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.”
The film intends to focus on the Wallace not seen in his public life, zeroing in on “the humanity within Christopher himself,” said Barrow. He added that no real-life character in Wallace’s world will play himself, given the passage of time.
The producers hope to begin production this fall.