Fox Searchlight Pictures President of Production Claudia Lewis announced today that principal photography on Notorious, the screen version about the life of rapper Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., will begin on March 24, 2008 in and around the five boroughs of New York. The film stars multiple award winner Angela Bassett as Christopher’s mother Voletta Wallace, Derek Luke as Sean Combs, Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and introducing Jamal Woolard as The Notorious B.I.G. After the overwhelming response to a year long aggressive and active worldwide search, Jamal Woolard, a Brooklyn native, was selected to portray the infamous rapper. George Tillman Jr. is set to direct.
“We feel honored to work with such intelligent and vibrant filmmakers as they bring Christopher Wallace’s story to life. George, his producers and his exemplary creative team will tell this story with style and distinction, and we are in awe of their vision and passion,” says Lewis.
“I’m looking forward to working with award-winning actress Angela Bassett,” said Tillman. “I’ve been a huge fan of her work for such a long time. She and the entire cast bring such a wealth of talent, I am beyond thrilled.”
“Finding B.I.G. was a task in itself and I’m honored that so many young men came out to audition for the role,” said Voletta Wallace. “However, it was Jamal’s charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile that won my heart. He is a talented and charismatic actor and I am excited that he will bring Christopher’s character to the big screen.”
In just a few short years, The Notorious B.I.G. rose from the streets of Brooklyn to become one of the most influential hip hop artists of all time. B.I.G. was a gifted storyteller; his narratives about violent life on the streets were told with a gritty, objective realism that won him enormous respect and credibility. His stories were universal and gave a voice to his generation.
The film also stars up and coming actors Antonique Smith, Naturi Naughton, Dennis White and Julia Pace Mitchell.
Notorious will be released by Fox Searchlight Pictures on January 16, 2009. Zola Mashariki, Vice President of Production, and Creative Executive Jason Hargrove are overseeing the project for Fox Searchlight Pictures. The film will be produced by Voletta Wallace, Wayne Barrow, Mark Pitts, Bob Teitel, Trish Hofmann and executive produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs based on a screenplay by Cheo Hodari Coker and Reggie Rock Bythewood.