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The NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton ran into some serious trouble last month when Michael B. Jordan - who had been eyed to play a young Dr. Dre - had to walk away from the project due to his commitments to Josh Trank's upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. The folks at Universal Pictures and the filmmakers behind the musical drama have been searching hard for not only a replacement, but also two more actors who could play Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Now it appears that the production has found its leading men.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the NWA biopic has finally been given the greenlight out of development hell and that Straight Outta Compton has found its stars. While audiences have become somewhat familiar with Michael B. Jordan thanks to his roles in movies like Chronicle, Fruitvale Station and That Awkward Moment, the studio ultimately decided to go for three relative unknowns to play they the members of the California rap group in the film. Perhaps the most well known of the group is 23-year-old O'Shea Jackson Jr., who is Ice Cube's son. The 22 Jump Street star apparently lobbied hard to get his boy the part, and as a result Jackson has been enlisted to portray his father. Joining him will be Marcus Callendar - a newcomer who has a role in the pilot of the new HBO series Criminal Justice - as Dr. Dre, and Jason Mitchell - a New Orleans-based performer who played parts in Broken City and Contraband - as Eazy E. Cube (duh), Dre and Eazy-E's widow Tomica Wright have all signed off on the casting and have approved the production moving forward.
Even though Universal is only putting together Straight Outta Compton's cast now, weirdly enough the film has technically been in production for a good amount of time now. As THR explains, the studio organized a sequence to be filmed in Los Angeles this past spring in order to qualify for a California film tax credit, and the clock has been running ever since. Casting reportedly took longer than expected because Wright was a hold out for a while, but that's obviously no longer the case. Now that all of the principal performers are in place, the plan is to have cameras rolling again "in less than two months."
F. Gary Gray, who worked with Ice Cube making Friday all the way back in 1995, is attached to direct the movie, having not helmed a film since 2009's Law Abiding Citizen. The screenplay has gone through many hands, including those of Alan Wenkus, S. Leigh Savidge and Andrea Berloff, but the most recent work has been done by Jonathan Herman (which apparently got the Universal "excited" about Straight Outta Compton's potential). It's been previously reported that the NWA biopic could come out some time in 2015, and if the film is able to keep to the current production schedule than that sounds totally feasible.