Justice Smith, Idris Elba and Taylour Paige have signed on to star in We All Die Young, a drama written by Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Blindspotting) and directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank, Paper Towns).
Based on a story by Diggs and Chinaka Hodge, the film will focus on Marcus, a rapper on the rise undertaking the biggest live tour anyone has ever seen. Yet he’s hopelessly creatively blocked. The film is being described as a midlife crisis akin to Fellini’s 8 1/2, except here that crisis comes in Marcus’ early 20s, because young Black men in the rap industry often don’t live to see 30.
Diggs told Deadline:
“The film follows a rapper who reaches the ripe old age of 25, which in rap years, if you ask any of us who participate in the culture, starts to feel like you’re entering a different era. He’s had regional success but when we meet him he’s on the verge of his big crossover hit and is going to become a bona fide superstar.
The life he’s leading is at odds with everything he grew up living. There is a cognitive dissonance between where you grew up and where you find yourself and you start to wonder why and how you got to this place […] when you talk to these young kids who are blowing up real fast, you start to recognize this is the dilemma they deal with: how to speak to the culture they come from, living the life they’re living.”
Schreier, who has worked closely with rappers like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and Juice WRLD, who died in 2019 at just 21 after suffering a seizure in a Chicago airport, also told Deadline:
“I’m very close with Benny Blanco, who worked closely with Juice WRLD. He was an amazing artist but you hear in his music he didn’t expect to live past being young. It’s in the songs, the expectation he would not make it past 22 or 23, and where 25 seems old.”
Smith, who can be seen starring in Amazon’s new thriller The Voyeurs, will play Marcus, while Elba will play Marcus’ label head who doubles as a menacing father figure, and Paige – who broke out as the star of Janicza Bravo‘s Zola earlier this year – will play a woman Marcus meets who inspires him to look beyond the pressures of the music industry.
We All Die Young sounds like it has the potential to be a fascinating examination of fame, creativity, and celebrity culture. With a host of great talent in front and behind the camera, expectations should be high for this one. Production is expected to begin in March.