8 Mile may not officially be classified as a “biopic,” but when you consider it follows the trials and tribulations of a white rapper from Detroit who hates his mom looking for his big break, they might as well have named Eminem’s character “Not Eminem” instead of “B-Rabbit” to really drive home the point that it was merely inspired by his life story as opposed to directly based on any specific events.
Three years later, 50 Cent went a similar route when he played himself in Get Rich or Die Tryin’ but the world would have to wait until 2009 to get what was the first real attempt to give hip-hop the same treatment that the likes of Ray Charles and Johnny Cash received when their lives served as the inspiration for critically-acclaimed films released earlier in the decade.
Jamie Foxx took home an Oscar for his portrayal of the blues legend while Joaquin Phoenix was forced to settle for the Best Oscar nomination he received while channeling the country music icon. Prior to the release of Notorious, there was a little bit of hype surrounding the actor who bore a pretty uncanny resemblance to the man commonly referred to as “Biggie Smalls,” but the fact that the only time the word “award” appears on the film’s Wikipedia page is in reference to a couple of plot points tells you basically all you need to know about that movie.
In 2015, we finally got the first real biopic to do the hip-hop artists at the center of it justice thanks to Straight Outta Compton, which documented N.W.A.’s meteoric rise in the late 1980s and early 90s. It didn’t have much in common with Notorious because it A) took place on the West Coast and B) was actually good but they did share one character in the form of Suge Knight.
Now, it looks like the walking nightmare who once ran Death Row Records will be appearing in yet another movie based on a rapper’s life, as Insider reports Dave Franco has signed on to play the one and only Rob Van Winkle—a man you probably know better as Vanilla Ice.
The actor told the outlet that the project has been in development for a bit and says he’s been working in conjunction with the rapper-turn-house flipper to bring his life to the big screen. Franco says his vision for To The Extreme— which borrows its name from the album that spent 16 weeks at the top of the charts with the help of “Ice Ice Baby”—involves giving Vanilla Ice the same treatment his brother James gave to Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, saying:
“With that movie, people expected us to make a broad comedy where we make fun of Tommy Wiseau, but the more real we played it, the funnier and heartfelt it was—that’s the tone we want for this one as well.”
So where does Suge Knight play into all of this? Well, the windbreaker aficionado who presumably served as the inspiration for Johnny Bravo’s haircut was at a hotel in Los Angeles shortly after “Ice Ice Baby” blew up when he received a visit from the imposing mogul, who wanted the publishing rights to the song. In order to provide the man who owned them with a little incentive, he grabbed him and dangled him off a balcony 15 stories above the ground before eventually departing with what he came for.
I have to say Vanilla Ice was probably near the bottom of my “Hip-Hop Biopics I Want To See” list prior to hearing about this, but now that I’m aware it’s happening, there aren’t many things I want more.