In order to play the Notorious B.I.G. in the Fox Searchlight film based on his life, Brooklyn-bred actor Jamal Woolard (AKA Gravy), put himself through a “Biggie Bootcamp” to make sure he had Big’s style down to a science.
Five months before he even auditioned for the role, Woolard, who was previously known by his rap name Gravy had already begun preparing by packing on the pounds. “I was at 285 [pounds]. I went up to 340,” he said. “I didn’t have a second chin. I needed that.”
When the extra weight didn’t completely do the trick he resorted to putting a cotton ball in his mouth to fill out his face. From there, Gravy built what he refers to as his “Biggie Bootcamp” where he studied the rapper’s every move.
“Mannerisms, behavior, vocal training, knowing which hand he used to talk, the head rolls the rub of the nose, the breathing patterns,” he said.
“The walk, the wobble the way his feet pointed out,” Gravy continued ”The chin, keeping the chin high so the eyes look closed, always screwing up your face, never having a solid face.”
In addition, Gravy said he took the time to learn how Biggie’s style changed as he aged.
“[As] Notorious he was his heaviest so his patterns of movement was different. [As a younger] B.I. he was harder so he was always snarling. He was younger so he moved faster,” he explained.
Theater-goers will be able to see if Gravy’s hard work paid off when Notorious hit theaters on January 16, 2009.
[Check out more “Biggie Week” goodies, as SOHH celebrates the lyrics, style and impact of the Notorious B.I.G.]