Biggie Week: Biggie Resurrected By BK Rapper In Upcoming Biopic

Thursday, Mar 6, 2008 12:00AM

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Brooklyn rapper Gravy has been tapped to play late hip-hop icon Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., in the upcoming biopic Notorious.

According to Hollywood Reporter, Fox Searchlight has hired Gravy (real name Jamal Woolard), to join the star-studded cast, including Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) who will play Sean "Diddy" Combs, Angela Bassett (What's Love Got to Do With It) as B.I.G.'s mother Voletta Wallace and Anthony Mackie (She Hate Me) as Tupac Shakur.

Gravy made headlines in 2006 after being shot outside New York radio station Hot 97 before a scheduled interview.

An open casting call saw hundreds of Biggie wannabes trying out for the part of the legendary rapper who was killed in an unsolved L.A. drive by in '97, many of them professional actors.

Woolard won out over the pros in part because he can rap. Executives said they'd rather work with a rapper who can flow than teach an actor how to emcee.

Besides being a rapper like Biggie, Woolard was also a drug dealer before he became an artist. He released a few albums on indy labels in the 90s before inking a deal with Warner Bros.

Voletta Wallace was reminded of her son when she met Woolard, taken by "Jamal's charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile," she said. "He is a talented and charismatic actor, and I am excited that he will bring Christopher's character to life."

The George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food") directed flick goes into production this month and is set for release in January of '09.

In related news the 11th anniversary of B.I.G.'s death is this Sunday (March 9). SOHH NYC has been celebrating the rappers legacy all week by showcasing some of the artist's greatest videos.

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