Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

apropos of nothing

Vulture Helps Cast the Notorious B.I.G. Biopic

From left: Biggie Smalls; some guy probably unfit to play Biggie Smalls. Bill Davila / Retna, nytimes.com

Though the New York Times' video feature on the open casting call for the lead in the forthcoming Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious gives us some hope that the film's producers will find someone who actually resembles the deceased hip-hop legend rather than just slap Denzel Washington or Jamie Foxx in a fat suit, it also shows us just how tricky it will be to find someone who looks, sounds, and acts like Smalls. We've decided to play armchair casting director (trust us, it's more fun to play than "armchair gaffer") and rate the handful of prospective Biggies featured in the clip.

Ray Louisma: One of the more petite Smalls look-alikes on hand, Louisma has the rapper's sartorial flair but perhaps not enough of his swagger and stature. His attempt to perform "Juicy" at the end comes across as weak and weirdly effeminate. Grade: C-

Terrance Burton: The Brooklyn resident has a strong presence but looks more like a random heavyset black guy than one of the most iconic rappers of all time. His rap near the end isn't bad, but it's certainly not close to sounding like Biggie. Grade: C+

Shaun Monroe: Monroe only appears for a few seconds, but he comes
close to matching Smalls's visage, style, and sonorous voice. Grade: B

Shawn Banks: Like Burton, this guy just seems like another ordinary dude. Pass! Grade: C-

Tim Wilson: Wilson bears a striking resemblance to the rapper and comes close to matching his intense flow. He could be a winner with the right acting coach. Grade: A-

"Big" William Hunter: This man has dreadlocks and appears to be at least ten years older than Biggie at the time of his death. C'mon! Grade: D

Jeffrey Kyei: The Torontonian is a bit on the svelte side but absolutely nails the rapper's voice. If he gains some weight, he could be a dead ringer for the slain MC. Grade: A
—Matthew Perpetua

Casting Biggie Smalls [NYT]