Biggie Week: Notorious B.I.G. Casting Call Attracts Big Turnout

Wednesday, Oct 10, 2007 12:00AM

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Last weekend producers of Notorious, the biopic dedicated to late rapper Biggie Smalls, held an open casting call for the role of the oversized MC.

Stumped in their search for an established actor who might play the role of The Notorious B.I.G (real name Christopher Wallace), producers have widened their search to undiscovered talent.

In August, Fox Searchlight announced an online hunt for an actor to play the role on The site featured a message from Biggie's mother, Voletta Wallace, who is one of the project's producers.

"Finding Biggie is going to be a task in itself," Ms. Wallace admits on the tape. "Anyone who felt that they can fill that shoe, can do that swagger, can try the lyrical tone, I'm welcoming them."

At the time of his death ten years ago, at the age of 24, Biggie was 6'3 and tipped the scales at almost 300 pounds. While the part won't require an exact match, whoever wins the role of Biggie will have some large shoes to fill.

Saturday's New York casting call attracted nearly 100 hopefuls from across the U.S. and Canada - many who chose to imitate the late rapper's style by donning fur coats, fedoras, sunglasses, Timberland boots and patterned Coogi sweaters.

"What I offer is the charm and charisma and comedic timing that Biggie had," 31-year-old Shawn Banks told The New York Times. "In my mind - and to my mother - I'm already famous."

Others in the crowd took a more thespian approach to the audition. Flatbush, Brooklyn native Ray Louisma told the New York Times he spent nearly 2 weeks watching Biggie's videos and listening to his music in preparation.

"I was looking at every aspect," he said. "The way he talked, the way he moved, the way he blinked his eyes. I spent like three hours in the mirror trying to make my eyes look cross-eyed, because sometimes Biggie looked like he was cross-eyed and sometimes he didn't."

According to The Times, the casting call, which was held at Chelsea's City Stages on West 19th Street in Manhattan, required the wannabee Biggie's to try out in front of Ms. Wallace, Biggie's former manager Mark Pitts, who is also producing the film, and a group of casting agents. Each potential B.I.G. was also asked to recite a few bars from Biggie's song "Warning."

While a number of Saturday's candidates earned callback auditions for the role, for now the part remains vacant. [Watch a video of the casting call here, courtesy of The New York Times]

For more information about how to try out to play Biggie in Notorious visit foxsearchlight's website.

[Peeps SOHH NYC for more on your favorite New York rappers]

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