Skip to main content
Search
Services
ENTERTAINMENT
Entertainment Weekly

EW Role Call: Rappers in movies

Ranking the 10 best performances

By Gary Susman
Entertainment Weekly

50 Cent
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'."

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Ice Cube
Ice-T
Queen Latifah
Movies

(Entertainment Weekly) -- Maybe it's the facility with language, or the practice at telling tall tales. One way or another, a career as a rapper sure seems to prepare MCs for starring roles in movies that earn big box office bucks and-quite often-raves from critics.

In his autobiographical drama "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " (opening Wednesday), Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is the latest chart-topping rapper to make a bid for such crossover success. He even developed a unique Method-acting technique. To prepare for a role that required him to cry and display uncharacteristic vulnerability, he told EW, "I imagined failing."

The transition from pop star to movie star used to be a rough one. Before the hip-hop era, only a few top recording artists (Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby) became successful screen stars, while most (Elvis Presley, Madonna, Mick Jagger, Prince, Bob Dylan, David Bowie) had mixed results at best.

That changed, however, after Mario Van Peebles cast Ice-T as a cop in "New Jack City" (1991) and John Singleton cast Ice Cube as a Los Angeles gangbanger in "Boyz N the Hood" (also '91). Soon, an ever-growing roster of rappers, including Will "Fresh Prince" Smith and Queen Latifah, delivered memorable performances that drew throngs to the multiplex. (Click hereexternal link for some of the best.)

"Rappers are natural actors," director Rob Cohen told Entertainment Weekly in 2002. (He directed Ja Rule in "The Fast and the Furious" and Eve in "XXX.") "Between their videos and their own onstage theatricality, it's very easy to direct them once you explain the language of film."

Plus, many rappers may have the quality director Curtis Hanson saw in Eminem when he directed him in "8 Mile."

"What he had from the beginning is a natural charisma," Hanson told EW, "a thing that makes you interested in watching him and hearing what comes out of his mouth. As frustrating as it is to all the wannabe actors out there, that's God-given. You either have it or you don't."

50 Cent's first movie could put him in that club. In the meantime, here are the past performances you need to see-by 10 rappers who definitely have it.

Click hereexternal link to see the gallery.


Click Hereexternal link to Try 2 RISK FREE issues of Entertainment Weekly

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines