It's been announced that Brooklyn rapper Jamal Woolard (a.k.a. Gravy) will play Notorious B.I.G. in the forthcoming Fox Searchlight biopic Notorious. Woolard, a non-actor, is probably best known as the guy who got shot in the ass near radio station Hot 97 in 2006 but went upstairs and gave an interview on the Funkmaster Flex show anyway. As Nah Right and Idolator point out, he'd been rumored to have won the role almost two years ago (pre-ass-shooting), so those open casting calls last October were probably just a publicity stunt (meaning producers likely didn't even watch our audition tape!). Still, we're not too disappointed.
We think Woolard is great for the part. Sure, nobody knows if he can act, but he's a capable rapper and is certainly obese enough to carry the role physically. Most important, though, he's got resolve. In 2006, The New Yorker ran a great piece by Ben McGrath on violence at Hot 97, in which Woolard had this to say about his shooting:
"I was there to do my job, so I did my job. Now, to people it looks like "Well, you got shot. And you still went in there and did your job?" Like, O.K., let's put the shoe on the other foot. What was I supposed to tell a powerful influence like Flex, at Hot 97? 'You know what, Flex? I'm sorry, man. I can't do the show. I was standing downstairs—got shot in the ass.' What, are you nuts? Right? It wouldn't make any sense. So I had to do what I had to do."
Yes, we were disappointed by the semi-crappy screenplay for Notorious, but it's at least good to know that Biggie will be played by an actor we can depend on to do the job even if he gets shot in the ass.