You could say he was born to play the role, as he's the real-life son of N.W.A. member Ice Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson. But the part wasn’t handed to him.
To earn the role, Jackson went through a grueling two-year process that included constant auditions and working with three different acting coaches.
"It's all these things to build confidence within me," Jackson told Entertainment Weekly about the process.
And though Cube was supportive of this son's growth, as a producer on the film he had to find the best actor to play himself.
"If we found a better Cube, then we had to go with the best man for the job," Cube told People. "That's how acting and movie shoots work. So I couldn't give it to him — and I wouldn't if I could because that's easy."
Actors and rappers also auditioned for the role, with a short list coming down to Jackson and two others gunning for the Cube role, Jackson told People.
But the final decision didn’t come down to who had the look or tone of Cube, but to who had the best rapping skills.The actors chosen to play the members of N.W.A. had to also be able to convincingly perform the classic songs from the group's debut album, "Straight Outta Compton." There would be no dubbing of voices for the songs featured in the movie — they would have to rap just like the legends they were portraying.
It was Jackson's prowess on the mic that inevitably landed him the role.
Ultimately, Jackson perfectly portrayed his dad in the movie. Many who have seen the film have been blown away by Jackson's performance. Cinema Blend writes that it's Jackson's "uncanny ability to embody his father, from his presence to his quirks, that gives the film its oomph."
After viewing the final cut of the film, Jackson got his father's seal of approval.
"As a parent, you always are proud of the moments when you kid steps up," Cube told Tribune News. "So I'm forever grateful that he stepped up to this challenge and portrayed me in the movie. I couldn't picture anyone else doing it. I was totally engulfed watching him perform. See, I've never been to an N.W.A. concert — I've done an N.W.A. concert, but never had the chance as an audience member to experience it, and I was like, 'Pretty powerful!'"
O'Shea Jackson Jr. is one of Ice Cube's four children with Kimberly Woodruff, the rapper's wife of 23 years.
Here's the family at the premiere of "Barbershop 2: Back in Business" in 2004:
And here's the trio at the Los Angeles premiere of "Straight Outta Compton" on August 10:
Since its release last Friday, "Straight Outta Compton" has raked in a whopping $67.7 million at the box office.