‘Notorious’ actor: ‘Biggie Smalls was our Shakespeare’

Jamal Woolard speaks to NME.COM about new film

Jamal Woolard, who plays the Notorious BIG in the forthcoming biopic ‘Notorious’, has compared the late rapper to William Shakespeare.

Woolard told NME.COM that the rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, was a big influence on him growing up – plus revealed that he had to place cotton balls in his mouth to play him, “Marlon Brando-style”.

“It’s an honour to play such an iconic figure, to be someone who’s so big in the history of hip-hop and music in general,” Woolard told NME.COM.

Speaking about the preparation he went through for the part, he said, “I put myself through the Biggie bootcamp. I did five months of training. I had to bulk up – I went from 280 to 340 pounds. I’m diabetic so it was a real struggle. I had to put cotton balls in my mouth, Marlon Brando-style.

“Tens of thousands of people went for the role from Los Angeles to New York, so it was amazing to get the role, a real honour.

“I think it was great it went to a guy from Brooklyn though – we had the same upbringing, we got the same Brooklyn swagger, that’s what so great about it.

Biggie was an influence in every aspect of my music – from the lifestyle to our values to what we believed in. We all had big dreams, we wanted to be musicians, or doctors or lawyers. We all looked up to him. Biggie to us was like our Shakespeare.”

‘Notorious’ is released in UK cinemas on Friday (February 13). Watch the film trailer by clicking below.