USA has found its Biggie and Tupac: Wavvy Jonez and Marcc Rose have been cast as Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls aka the Notorious B.I.G.) and Tupac Shakur in the USA Network pilot “Unsolved: The Murders of Biggie and Tupac.”
Both are relative unknowns who bear a resemblance to the late hip-hop superstars they will portray.
Rose previously played Shakur in the Universal feature “Straight Outta Compton,” while this is the first acting role for Jonez.
Jonez, a rapper who recently released the mixtape “R.E.D. D.O.P.E.” (Real Everyday Drama Doing Over People’s Expectation), was found during a nationwide open casting call and chosen via video audition out of hundreds of entries.
It’s now been 20 years since Shakur and Wallace were both killed within six months of each other, and the murders have never been solved. Their deaths came at the pinnacle of the so-called East Coast/West Coast rap wars.
Shakur, the poet, actor and rapper behind hits such as “Dear Mama,” “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Changes,” was shot and killed in Las Vegas in September 1996. Wallace, who became an icon of East Coast rap with hits like “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” was shot and killed in Los Angeles in March 1997.
Previously announced casting includes Josh Duhamel as Detective Greg Kading, Jimmi Simpson as Detective Russell Poole and Bokeem Woodbine as Officer Daryn Dupree.
Emmy winner Anthony Hemingway (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) will direct and is executive producer; Kyle Long (“Suits”) is writing the pilot and will also executive produce. “Unsolved” is based on the work done by former LAPD Detective Greg Kading, who led multiple law-enforcement task forces investigating the murders and authored the book “Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations.” Kading will serve as a consultant on the pilot script and as a co-executive producer. Mark Taylor is also an executive producer.