Jamal Woolard will play Biggie
Jamal Woolard

Biggie is coming to the big screen. Fox Searchlight has hired Jamal Woolard, a Brooklyn-based rapper, to play late rap icon Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., in its upcoming biopic "Notorious."

Derek Luke, Angela Bassett and Anthony Mackie also have been cast in the movie, the art-house studio said. Directed by George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food"), it goes into production this month and is set for release in January.

Luke ("Catch a Fire") will play Biggie record producer Sean "Diddy" Combs, who off-screen is an executive producer on the film. Mackie ("Brother to Brother") will play rival rapper Tupac Shakur, while Bassett ("Akeelah and the Bee") will play Biggie's mother Voletta Wallace. [Billboard]