How an Open Casting Call Discovered ‘Straight Outta Compton’s Eazy-E

Project Casting

‘Straight Outta Compton’: How aspiring actor Jason Mitchell was discovered during an open casting call.

From Los Angeles to Atlanta fans of hip-hop are getting excited for the upcoming ‘Straight Outta Compton’ movie. But, did you know the actor that plays Easy-E was discovered during an open casting call?

Project Casting posted casting calls for aspiring actors to audition for the leading roles in the N.W.A. movie. Casting calls were being held nationwide from Los Angeles all the way to Atlanta. After several nationwide casting calls, casting directors chose their modern day version of N.W.A.

According to the NYPost, Jason Mitchell was a struggling New Orleans actor with no acting experience when he submitted an audition tape to play rapper Eazy-E in “Straight Outta Compton,” the biopic about the 1980s rap group N.W.A.

The actor studied video footage of Eazy (né Eric Wright) and listened to his music until he could mimic the late rapper’s speech and mannerisms. Director F. Gary Gray liked what he saw, and asked Mitchell to Los Angeles for a callback audition.

But, he nearly lost the role of a lifetime after he was unable to pay for a plane ticket to Los Angeles. He needed $1,500 to attend the call back. Luckily, the movie’s director settled for a Skype audition instead.

Jason Mitchell only started acting five years ago. “To be honest, acting was something where I got a chance to be somebody else and forget about the situation I was in,” he says. “I got caught up in the drug scene like a lot of my friends. We were making mistakes.”

Straight Outta Compton

Mitchell took a few acting classes and landed a role in 2012’s “Contraband” and 2013’s “Broken City” – two movies that both featrued Mark Wahlberg, an actor who would later put in a good word for Mitchell with the studio. But, playing Eazy-E is the young actor’s biggest challenge yet, and the rapper’s rise and fall from being a Los Angeles drug dealer to a rap superstar to dying from AIDS in 1995.

The production re-created several concert and studio scenes in which the actors were required to actually perform parts of N.W.A songs. In order to sound like Eazy-E, Jason Mitchell worked with rapper William “WC” Calhoun. “He told me that Eazy and those guys from the older generation had a different posture, a different walk,” Mitchell says.

Jason Mitchell also stayed in character for six weeks prior to filming ever starting. Looking the part required three hours of makeup including a wig. But, at the end of the day it all paid off. “Dr. Dre was literally jumping out of his seat.”