Playing the Notorious B.I.G. in a feature film based on the late rapper’s life is a daunting task. This is especially daunting for an actor from Brooklyn. But, Jamal “Gravy” Woolard is not backing down from the challenge.
“He’s still living, through me. I’m going to let y’all know: I’m not going to let y’all down. Put it down for the borough. This is for the borough. BK, stand up,” he recently said, while filming the LP.
Woolard also gave some insight to how he is going about the portrayal.
“We’re targeting every corner of it — from Christopher to Biggie Smalls to Notorious B.I.G,” he said. “He’s a funny dude. That’s the part in the film that you’ll see. He’s a comedian all the time.”
Derek Luke, who plays Diddy in the film, also spoke on the movie.
“What kind of criticism [did] Puffy give me? Oh, man, I tried to stay away from him,” he said of Diddy‘s praise [click to read]. “You know, ’cause I just wanted to get a heart. I was inspired by who he is today but mostly how he started. But to be honest … man. He just looked at me, and he was like, ‘Yo, you do something wrong, trust me, I’ll let you know.’ So, I believe, that was good.”
“The preparation I took to play Puff was I was going to talk to Puff’s mom,” Luke told MTV. “Puff opened the office to me, but I was like, ‘Man, if I get to [meet] his mom, it’s all good.’ I went to his mom, and she kinda set me into the right place about who he was, how he started out as a child, who he is today.”
Lil’ Kim also appears in the film, played by Naturi Naughton, who fans may know from her stint as a former member of 3LW.
“Well, people have been critical. A lot of people don’t expect me to be able to fill these shoes and play the role that’s so different than what they’ve seen, because people know me. They think, ‘Oh, she’s sweet. She’s little. She’s a little girl from 3LW.’ I’m a grown woman now, OK? Things have changed. It’s a little challenging, but I’m willing to take this challenge and prove everybody wrong. All the naysayers, all the haters, I’m going to show them what I’m made of.”
Apart from DJ Enuff, Mister Cee, D. Dot and a few others, Lil’ Cease is on board to assist others with their acting.
“I’ve had to show him how to roll blunts. That’s important to the story,” he said. “You got a lot of 16-, 17-year-olds who probably hear their mother or siblings or something play Biggie all day and don’t have background on him. This movie, you get to see his background. It’s bigger than music. You see his personality. You get to see how he treated his kids, how he bonded with his moms, how he treated Junior M.A.F.I.A. It’s something special, something good.”
“The reason why I think this story is important to be told is because this is a story about two dreamers, and I love the fact that one is from Harlem, one is from Brooklyn, and [they] came in this world with nothing — only but a dream. So what I got from this story is that if you got a dream, you’re rich. That’s enough.”
This only builds anticipation for a film that has already generated serious buzz.