NWA hasn’t performed on stage together in over a decade, but the groundbreaking rap group’s surviving members did have a stage reunion of sorts on the set of their upcoming biopic, Straight Outta Compton. And it included their screen doppelgangers (doppelgangstas, if you will), too.
Yahoo Movies was on the film’s Santa Monica, Calif. set in September to witness the photo opp, and you can see the exclusive shot above. The picture features remaining NWA alum (from left) DJ Yella, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Dr. Dre in the top row, with Compton actors Neil Brown Jr. (Yella), O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Cube), Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Aldis Hodge (Ren), and Corey Hawkins (Dre) taking knees in front of them. (Universal previously released this image, which did not include Yella and Ren or the actors playing them.)
While Cube and Dre both serve as producers on the film — and were regularly involved in the production’s daily operations — Yella and Ren were both visiting the set when the picture was taken. (The group’s fifth member, Eazy-E, passed away in 1995.)
“It was a special day,” Compton director F. Gary Gray told us by phone this week. “I don’t think they had all been together for a very a long time. So to experience the surviving members of NWA, all together — and then for them to experience the cast playing them — was magical.”
Gray (Friday, Set It Off) likened the cross-generational grouping to the meeting of McFlys in Back to the Future, the same analogy Ice Cube used while explaining what it was like seeing his own son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., playing him in the film. You can watch that interview here:
Cube and Dre’s first-hand intel on the film’s events was invaluable. “Hip-hop is all about authenticity,” Gray said. “Having them as partners helped with finding and delivering not only the authenticity, but also the detail of some of the things that happened 20 or 30 years ago. It’s what makes the film feel real.”
Yella and Ren stopped by the production at several points, Gray said, as did family members of Eazy-E. “His son came and watched Jason perform, and was really, really happy with not only our choice of Jason to play Eazy, but [with] how we captured some of the moments that he was in with his dad. I’m sure it was interesting to see it recreated.”
Straight Outta Compton opens Aug 14. Watch the latest trailer: