Paul Giamatti has closed a deal to star in Straight Outta Compton, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
The actor will play Jerry Heller, manager of the pioneering rap group N.W.A.
F. Gary Gray is directing the Universal biopic about the West Coast rappers, with original members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as well as Matt Alvarez and Tomica Woods-Wright producing. Will Packer and Scott Bernstein are exec producing.
Heller was already a major figure on the music scene before working with N.W.A. He represented acts ranging form Journey to ELO to REO Speedwagon and helped Pink Floyd and Elton John in their early American tours. He cemented his musical legacy when he co-founded the label Ruthless Records with Eazy-E. Heller signed and managed N.W.A. and oversaw their rise. However, when the band broke up with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre’s departures, Heller was fingered by some as being a Yoko Ono figure and the cause of the group’s disbandment for mishandling monies.
Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. is playing his father in the film, with Jason Mitchell taking the part of Eazy-E and Corey Hawkins starring as Dr. Dre. The project is set in the mid-1980s and chronicles how five young men channeled their experiences growing up in Compton into brutally honest music.
Giamatti, who was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar for 2005’s Cinderella Man, is repped by UTA. His manager is Perri Kipperman and his legal representative is Robert Offer.
Universal is releasing Straight Outta Compton on Aug. 14, 2015.