While Straight Outta Compton has been receiving plaudits from critics and breaking box office records, there’s been one story that has plagued its success since it opened - and it’s quite a serious one. The omission of Dr. Dre’s physical attack of hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes wasn’t addressed in the N.W.A. biopic, and it’s now been revealed that there was a draft of Jonathan Herman’s screenplay that did include this violent altercation. But why was it left out?
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the scene in question was in an early version of the script, however, director F. Gary Gray admitted during a pre-release screening that it was later taken out in order to focus more intimately on the group.
However, the controversial scene has now been revealed, and if it had been included it would have drastically altered the mood, tone, and relatability of Dr. Dre’s as a character in the biopic. According to the LA Times, the scene in question took place at a party and featured Dre, "eyes glazed, drunk with an edge of nastiness, contempt." At this soiree he notices Dee Barnes and then decides to approach her.
His dialogue includes, "Saw that [expletive] you did with Cube. Really had you under his spell, huh? Ate up everything he said. Let him diss us. Sell us out." Barnes’ character then responds with, "I just let him tell his story. That’s what I do. It’s my job."
Dre then gets angrier, and as the conversation becomes more heated, Barnes then throws her drink into Dre’s face, who then attacks her. The scene describes his abuse as him "flinging her around like a rag-doll, while she screams, cries, begs for him to stop." You can read the full dialogue that was included in the scene in the Los Angeles Times article.
F. Gary Gray insisted that there had been discussions about whether or not to include the scene. However, since the original script ran in at a humungous 150 pages, which would have meant the film was three and a half hours long, they knew they had to cut huge chunks out, which is why the sequence didn’t make the final cut.
In response to Straight Outta Compton not making reference to Dr Dre’s attack on Barnes, which the musician pled no contest to and resulted in him getting probation, she has since written an essay on the incident, which was published by Gawker. If the omission of the moment was something that bugged you while watching the movie, it’s worth a read.