Michael K. Williams, the scar-faced character actor best known for playing street-smart hardmen like Chalky White in Broadwalk Empire and Omar Little in The Wire, has been cast to star as Ol’ Dirty Bastard in a new biopic of the late rapper’s life.
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According to an exclusive Entertainment Weekly report, Williams, 45, will play ODB, the mercurial Wu-Tang Clan rapper born Russell Jones who had multiple run-ins with the law, substance abuse problems and an infamously unhinged rap persona.
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The upcoming film, titled Dirty White Boy, focuses on an unlikely relationship between ODB and Jarred Weisfeld, a 22-year-old VH1 production assistant who became the hip-hop star’s manager during the rapper’s three-year jail stint in the early 2000’s.
The ambitious and apparently persuasive Weisfeld helped orchestrate ODB’s comeback, which was cut short when the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder died from a drug overdose at age 35 in 2004.
Joaquín Baca-Asay, the cinematographer on We Own the Night, Roger Dodger and Jay-Z’s video for “99 Problems,” has been tapped to make his feature directorial debut, according to reports.
The role of Weisfeld has not been cast yet. However, it may prove to be an attractive prospect for the right actor.
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play opposite Williams?
Still, since early reports describe the film as being told from the perspective of the Weisfeld character, it also makes one wonder if Williams’ role will be overshadowed by whoever’s selected as the white protagonist.
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Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog VeryArtistical.com.