Question: How does a Juilliard actor with a background in Shakespeare but zero turntable experience convincingly portray a hip-hop maestro ripping the ones and twos in the year’s most successful biopic?
Answer: Practice. Practice. Practice.
In a bonus featurette showcased on the Straight Outta Compton Blu-ray/DVD, which arrives on Jan. 19, rookie screen star Corey Hawkins is shown taking an on-set crash course in highly technical DJ moves to portray N.W.A co-founder Dr. Dre. The person orchestrating his wheels of steel education: None other than Dre himself, who served as both producer and technical adviser on the hip-hop biopic that racked up three consecutive No. 1 weekends at the box office and has taken in more than $161 million since its August release.
To hear it from Dre, casting unknown talent such as O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, and Hawkins — who debuted on Broadway performing Romeo and Juliet in 2013 and won the prestigious John Houseman Award for excellence in classical theater at New York’s Juilliard School — was crucial to Compton’s keeping-it-real ethos.
“The fact that we’re using new talented black artists is very important,” Dr. Dre says in the clip. “Opening the door for new guys that have this type of talent. We didn’t want to go out and get the typical black actors who are out there doing their thing. It would have made it feel funny — and possibly a little fake.”
The Unrated Director’s Cut, which includes 20 extra minutes of story, arrives on Digital HD on Jan. 5, two weeks before the Blu-ray.
BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO Blu-ray:
BECOMING N.W.A. – An in-depth look at how the producers and F. Gary Gray tackled the challenging task of casting these larger than life creators of gangster rap.
NEVER BEFORE SEEN PERFORMANCE
BLU-RAY and DVD BONUS FEATURES
N.W.A. THE ORIGINS – N.W.A. was a group that changed history. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, and many others talk about their start in the 80’s and where it all began.
IMPACT – An exploration of the impact N.W.A. and specifically their breakout album that changed everything.
DIRECTOR’S JOURNEY – Utilizing a large amount of stand up interviews, we follow F. Gary Gray through the streets of Compton as he brings together the story of the founders of gangsta rap.
THE STREETS: FILMING IN COMPTON – Take a look through the lens of Director F. Gary Gray as he perfected the authentic feeling of what it was like to walk the streets of Compton.
N.W.A PERFORMS IN DETROIT – We go behind the scenes of what this performance meant to the original members of N.W.A. as they saw their lyrics spark controversy against the corruption of the police in Los Angeles, as well as the thoughts of the actors performing the song on stage for the movie.
FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR/PRODUCER F. GARY GRAY
Watch the Straight Outta Compton red-band trailer below.