When it came time to cast the upcoming NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton, the filmmakers didn’t have to go far to find the perfect person to play O'Shea Jackson, better known as Ice Cube. Their choice: the rapper-actor’s 24-year-old son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., who doesn’t just have the bloodline but is also a spitting image of his dad.
Both Jacksons insist that O'Shea Jr. wasn’t just handed the role, though, even if he had an obvious inside connection: “It wasn’t a shoo-in because he had to do a screen test for Universal,” Cube told us from the Los Angeles set of Compton in September, which you can watch above. “It wasn’t just me who was giving him the OK, but the studio was saying that he was the best man for the job.”
Compton marks the acting debut for O'Shea Jr., also a rapper who goes by the stage name OMG (Oh My Goodness). He prepped for the role for two years, working with acting coaches in both New York and Los Angeles. “It got to a point where I didn’t want to see anyone else play him, it would’ve killed me to see someone else play him,” the younger Jackson said. “So it became an obsession to get this part.”
The biopic, directed F. Gary Gray follows the rise of the seminal “gangsta rap” pioneers NWA — which also consisted of Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), and DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) — in the late '80s and early '90s, and their tense relationship with law enforcement and government.
“I’m living the ultimate dream as a producer, as an artist, and as a father,” Cube said from the set. Though the surreal experience reminds him of the exploits of a certain Marty McFly, who tinkered with the time-space continuum when he encountered his high-school-aged father.
“It’s already like Back to the Future for me anyway,” he said. “I feel like if I run into my son in the hallway at the wrong time, I could change history.”
Kind of like NWA did.
Straight Outta Compton opens August 14. Watch the latest trailer: