You may not know his name now, but you will. He’s a great talent with a great story.
By now you’ve certainly seen a trailer or ad promoting Straight Outta Compton and you may be wondering if it’s worth all the hype. The short answer is absolutely yes, for many reasons, one of which is to see Jason Mitchell deliver a great performance as Eazy-E, the leader of N.W.A. He’s a very humble guy who’s just happy to play one of rap’s legends. We got to have a great chat with him about his character and about himself.
Check it out:
You worked with Eazy E’s son, Lil Eazy-E, in preparing for the role. What insights did he help bring to the table?
Jason Mitchell: He did two things for me, one, he really just let me know what kind of guy his dad was, you know as far as [taking care of children], because that means so much about a man. It shows what kind of actual heart they have. He let me know how he treated women as far as his approach. I was interested to hear. But he also helped me coordinate, you know, who to talk to and stuff like that.
So New Orleans seems to have really impacted you. Did it help inspire you to become an actor?
Mitchell: Absolutely, I started acting because I needed new friends. All my friends were either going to high school and dropping out because they weren’t focused or they were getting shot or they were going to jail and I just didn’t want that for myself. It was getting a little too close to home. So I was like, maybe I should invest in some better time and things to do. I don’t know exactly what to do, but I can see that this isn’t working.
What drew you to acting?
Mitchell: Actually one of my friends, it’s crazy because, like, I’m in the car and I hear this ad and me and him briefly talk about it. Alright yea, maybe you should go to acting school. I was like yea, that’d be dope, whatever. So, we hear it a second time and he’s like dawg, I’m telling you, you should try that sh*t. I’m like alright, cool, whatever. So then, we talk about it for a third time and he’s like man you should go to this acting school and I’m like man we just got to wait to hear the ad again, but he remembered the number off the top of his head and I’m like oh my God, it must be a sign! So I called, and yea. I was terrible at first, like I had no understanding on how to do my job at first but I had like the raw talent and it just went from there. After I discovered what I had, it started to pick up.
Would you say that playing the role of Eazy-E helped you, as an actor, to learn about fame and staying grounded?
Mitchell: Absolutely. I’m telling you, I was having a hard time keeping these things down. When you’re in front of that many people and then they’re just chanting Eazy! Eazy! It’s crazy. You can see why people become like rock stars and want to do music and want to perform in front of 90,000 people or whatever it is because it’s like, wow because the feeling is just incredible.
Was it intimidating having member of N.W.A and other rap legends on the set?
Mitchell: At first it was because these guys are larger than life, but they’re that in person, if that makes sense. It’s hard to measure somebody when they’re super modest, super on point, but wearing a $400,000 watch. It’s very hard to read somebody like that. They made it comfortable for us. People might think that it’s weird, don’t get me wrong, it’s weird at first, especially if you have respect for hip-hop and stuff like that. They took all the jitters out. They were like you’re the man for the job. We hired you cause we think you’re the best and if it’s wrong, we’ll tell you. If not, I’m just going to be quiet, and chill. You know what I mean? [They were like] If you need anything, just let me know and it was always open doors. They’re just the old guys now, they’re the uncles now.