Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are joined by their film counterparts – Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Corey Hawkins – as the featured story on the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter. In the rather lengthy piece, the five touch upon everything including the trials and tribulations is took to actually create the film (spoiler alert: it took 13 years to do!), their everlasting impact which remains prevalent some 30 years later, potential plans to tour with Eminem, and – of course – a certain Suge Knight incident that occurred on set a couple of months ago.
Some choice quotes from the piece:
Long before Universal was on board, one of the obstacles to a rational business model was the fact that the N.W.A members aren’t always on speaking terms, let alone willing to collaborate. They’ve been involved in feuds upon feuds, the biggest dating back to 1996, when Dre walked away from his ownership stake in Death Row Records at the height of its ascent, leaving a reported $50 million on the table and infuriating his Death Row partner Suge Knight — bad blood that clearly lingers today. N.W.A founding member Eazy-E, who started the group’s label, Ruthless Records, and controlled the rights to N.W.A’s music, died in 1995 at age 31 of AIDS. He left his wife, Tomica Woods-Wright, in charge of the group’s musical legacy as well as his own life rights. Anybody interested in making an N.W.A movie would have to get her on board first, then the rest of the gang. (“Ultimately, I’m very pleased with the film,” says Woods-Wright, who is a producer on Compton.)
One of the biggest challenges of making Straight Outta Compton, it turned out, was cramming three decades’ worth of N.W.A’s struggles, triumphs, infighting and eventual breakup, as well as Eazy-E’s death, into a two-hour, 22-minute film. Initial cuts clocked in at more than three hours. A scene referencing Cube’s sister, who was killed by her police-officer boyfriend in 1981 — a fact that adds some context to his anti-police lyrics — ended up on the editing-room floor. “We had to make sure we wasn’t going off into those nooks and crannies,” says Cube with a shrug.
As far as anyone knows, Knight never tried to get onto the set of Straight Outta Compton. But the 50-year-old rap mogul did show up during filming of a promotional trailer being shot in Compton on Jan. 29, a few months after production had wrapped on the movie. Knight was ushered away from the premises by security. But he didn’t go far. A few blocks from the set, he got into a confrontation with Cle “Bone” Sloan, a technical adviser on the trailer. At one point during the argument, Knight allegedly climbed into his pickup truck, turned over the engine and deliberately ran over Sloan as well as Terry Carter, a former business associate of Cube. Sloan was hospitalized but eventually recuperated. Carter was killed at the scene.
“I was there. But I was just leaving, so I didn’t know what happened until I was halfway home,” says Dre, who shares his Brentwood mansion with his wife of 19 years, Nicole Young. “I heard about it over the phone. Everybody was supportive everywhere we went, and we didn’t have one issue throughout the entire filming of the movie. It’s crazy that this happened during the f—ing filming of the commercial.”
Cube, who wasn’t on the set, takes a more philosophical view. “It’s the dangerous part of living in South Central,” he says. “Some people don’t care if you’re making a movie or not. It’s unfortunate because the movie is so good, so creative, so many talented people involved.”
Knight, who has clashed with the law many times in the past — including serving a five-year sentence for parole violations — claims he accidentally ran over the men while attempting to flee the confrontation. He’s currently being held in L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail, awaiting trial on murder and attempted murder charges, with the possibility of life in prison if convicted. His most recent hearing was July 17, when a judge refused to lower his bail from $10 million. His next hearing is Sept. 17. No trial date has been set.
“It’s just a really unfortunate incident,” says Dre. “Maybe [Knight] was looking for trouble. I don’t know.”
The entire thing can be read here. In the meantime, check out this brief clip with the cast below.