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Why Eazy-E From Straight Outta Compton Looks So Familiar

The 2015 biopic "Straight Outta Compton," detailing the rise of West Coast Rap supergroup N.W.A., proved to be one of the year's best movies. The National Board of Review named the movie one of the top 10 films of the year. A large part of this success was due to the top-notch performances from the show's main cast. It's no surprise that O'Shea Jackson Jr. can look and act like his father, N.W.A. member Ice Cube. However, the performances from Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) also proved faithful to the personalities of their real-world counterparts. 

In particular, Mitchell's performance even managed to impress some of Eazy-E's family. The West Coast legend's daughter, E.B. Wright, told NBC that "Jason is everything I imagined [my father] to be ... I really felt like I was watching him on the screen." But portraying Eazy-E is far from everything Mitchell has done. Despite Eazy-E being his breakout role, there are multiple other large-scale projects where viewers might recognize Mitchell.

Mitchell worked with Mark Wahlberg before Straight Outta Compton

In 2012 and 2013, Mitchell landed some of his first recognizable roles acting alongside Mark Wahlberg in "Contraband" and "Broken City" respectively. Though these were simple supporting roles, they would be the stepping stones that allowed Mitchell to progress further in his career. In an interview on "The Jenny McCarthy Show," Mitchell opened up about how those roles helped him break out.

"[Mark Wahlberg] actually helped me out..." he said. "I did two films with him in New Orleans ... but he definitely took a liking to me. And he liked the fact that I was interested in knowing people's names, knowing people's jobs, shaking hands, and hugging people on set. Just a good work environment. At the time I didn't know it was such a thing to propel me in my career ... so I think he sort of put the bug in Universal's ear to take me seriously."

He went from drama to comedy with Key & Peele's Keanu

The year after "Straight Outta Compton" hit theaters, Mitchell was cast again in the feature-length film "Keanu." The film, created by and starring the comedy duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, tells the story of two friends who disguise themselves as gangsters to retrieve a small kitten named Keanu. Jason Mitchell was cast as one of the authentic gangsters named Bud.

"The local challenge of the day was like, 'keep a straight face,'" Mitchell told BackstageOL about working on "Keanu." "It was a challenge, man, because these guys are just a different level of funny. You don't experience people like this in your lifetime."

But Key and Peele weren't the only ones telling jokes. Mitchell's role in the film required a fair bit of comedy from himself as well. According to Mitchell, this was a learning experience for him. "It was good to get that coaching from [Key and Peele]," he said in an interview with Mandatory.

Jason Mitchell returned to more serious roles with Mudbound

Following his stint working in comedy with Key and Peele, Mitchell made a comeback to more dramatic roles with 2016's "Mudbound." Mitchell played the role of Ronsel Jones, a World War II tank commander who returns home after the war, only to struggle with PTSD, poverty, and racism in rural Mississippi. During this time, he forms a friendship with co-lead Jamie, an ex-pilot from the neighboring white family. The two bond over their experiences in war and face challenges concerning the race-based animosity between their two families.

"Mudbound" was Mitchell's highest-rated success following "Straight Outta Compton," and was nominated for four Oscars (via IMDb). Furthermore, he pinpointed the movie as another turning point in his career. "At the time, my career just was not there at all. I didn't have very much to lean on, to say, 'oh, you should give me the part,'" Mitchell said in an interview with IndieWire. "For all everybody knows, 'Straight Outta Compton' could have been a complete fluke. I just could have been a guy who was lucky enough to be able to imitate Eazy-E really good."

Mitchell took a break from leading roles for his next two films

After "Mudbound," Mitchell briefly departed from drama once more to play a supporting role in "Kong: Skull Island." He played Glenn Mills, one of the soldiers who traveled on an expedition to Skull Island led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Mills was one of the few to escape Skull Island alive, despite being attacked by both King Kong and the massive Skullcrawler at the end of the film.

The New Orleans-born actor quickly returned to drama once again to play the role of Carl Cooper in "Detroit." Though this was another supporting role, it offered Mitchell a much greater opportunity to flex his acting muscles. The movie, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, focuses on the race riots held in Detroit in 1967 and stars John Boyega in the lead role.

In an interview with Yahoo! News, Mitchell praised Bigelow's unique directing style and defended the idea that a white person is capable of directing such a racially sensitive project. He said that in order to make such a movie, the director must "humble [themselves]" and that "Even when it came down to styling my hair, she felt like I knew better than she did ... and that takes a lot." Mitchell was also one of the few actors whom Bigelow allowed to see the movie's entire script.

He took over the small screen in The Chi

Most recently, Mitchell has made a new name for himself on the small screen starring as Brandon Johnson in Showtime's 2018 series "The Chi." Telling the story of "a group of residents who become linked by coincidence" in the South Side of Chicago, Mitchell's character stood at the epicenter of its emotional and narrative elements (via Showtime). However, his fame on the series would not survive its second season.

During the latter portion of "The Chi'" Season 2, allegations regarding sexual misconduct on the part of Mitchell began to spread. As a result, the actor was fired from the show, which continued its third season without him, according to the Chicago Tribune. He denied these allegations in an interview with "The Breakfast Club" radio show in November 2019. However, the source of these allegations, "The Chi" co-star Tiffany Boone, remained adamant that Mitchell is guilty. Aside from being fired from several projects during that time, Mitchell received no punishment for his alleged actions.