I learned a few things from the Straight Outta Compton world-wide press conference in Beverly Hills, CA last week. Firstly, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell are three rising stars in Hollywood. Second, I learned that F Gary Gray's vision for this project has spanned more than 4 years, and his passion for it was obvious - this wasn't an overnight thing. And lastly, I learned that this group that was on stage gelled and felt familial together on stage.
The group that spoke at the press conference included O'Shea Jackson Jr (played his dad Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins (played Dr. Dre), Jason Mitchell (played Eazy-E), F Gary Gray (director), Ice Cube (boss), and DJ Yella (also a boss).
The chemistry between the three stars was unreal
Corey Hawkins, who played Dre, and was a classically trained actor who dabbled in Shakespeare prior to this role, mentioned that this was a "team effort." I think that phrase sums it up perfectly. It's a complex story to tell, and to tell it right took unity and a lot of hard work.
Here's what Hawkins had to say about that obligation to work smartly and with a lot of effort and teamwork at the conference:
"Gary always used to say on set, just keep it in mind the power of what we're doing... we're making history about a group that made history. But for us, it was just coming to work every day. We didn't take it lightly... they placed a story into our hands that we wanted to do justice to. Thank you to G... I mean Gary, I'm sorry ("I'm G," says F Gary Gray) and Cube, and Dre, and Tamika, and Yella, and Ren and everybody. It was a team effort, team effort."
O'Shea Jackson Jr. played his father... O'Shea Jackson aka Ice Cube and it wasn't easy
Just because O'Shea Jackson Jr. was Ice Cube's son didn't mean that he was guaranteed the role. It's insanely impressive that this was his first major movie role, especially after having seen how well he does in the movie.
He is a spitting image of his dad, by the way, and he reflected on how even after "two years of auditioning" for this role that, "with the final project I couldn't have been happier." You've got to see it to believe it. He can act, and that father-son bond that they can share over this film clearly means a lot to both men.
Jason Mitchell who played Eazy-E may have been the star of the show
“I feel like I hit the lottery,” Jason said when asked about getting this potentially iconic role as Eazy-E - a man that a lot of people misunderstood. He had to collect himself, and was moved to tears during the press conference when F. Gary gave him the credit he so rightfully deserved for acting out the scene where Eazy-E learns he's HIV positive.
Overall, Mitchell just seemed like a likeable guy. All three of the young stars did. They got along well, and their chemistry was stupendous. It was easy to imagine them being good friends for life after this experience. And F Gary didn't make it easy on them, by any means.
They put a lot of hard work into this film
F Gary shed some light on the fact that they actually had to learn how to become emcees. And '80s/'90s emcees at that!
“We went through DJ school. I had these guys record the entire “Straight Outta Compton” album. Dub-C worked with them on how to perform on stage, and how to walk, talk and absorb the LA culture and West coast Hip Hop culture, and they did it in such a short amount of time. It’s a great feat what these guys did and delivered such a natural performance.”
That was probably the coolest thing I had ever heard. F Gary thought that it was important to achieve as much realism as possible and decided to go to any and all lengths to get there.
Great film, great tight-knit group of people. I highly recommend going to see it! It's out this Friday, August 11th, in theaters everywhere.