Nelly is becoming a certified triple threat with his new project, having been cast as Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry in the upcoming Buddy Holly biopic directed by Bruce Beresford titled Clear Lake, reports Variety. The rapper, currently competing in the finals of Dancing With the Stars Season 29, will star alongside established actors such as Colin Hanks, Diane Guerrero and Ruairi O'Connor.
Clear Lake reportedly tells the story of Holly and other famous 1950s musicians during the birth of rock 'n' roll and the civil rights movement in the United States. Holly died at just 22 in a plane crash outside of Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 3, 1959, along with Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson. O'Connor had been cast as Holly, while Hanks will play Norman Petty, Holly's manager and producer, and Guerrero will portray Holly's wife, Maria Elena Holly.
Taking on the role of Berry won't be Nelly's first acting role, having previously appeared on CSI: NY and The Longest Yard, but it will be perhaps his most serious acting job. The "Country Grammar" rapper is no stranger to stepping outside his comfort zone, however, telling Billboard last month that he agreed to do Dancing With the Stars over singing reality competition shows for expressly that purpose.
"I took this on more or less of a challenge, and basically because of the pandemic, you're not doing anything!" he told the publication, admitting that while he "can't dance at all," he preferred taking on something new than singing. "I don't want to sing. I do that for a living," he explained. "I'd totally be upset if I lost to a Housewife rapping or singing. Even though I love those shows — I love The Masked Singer, I love to watch it — but I don't think it's for me because I think I would be upset if I lost to somebody who's not a professional musician, so to speak."
Clear Lake doesn't have a release date attached to the project at this time, and is being produced by Rick French of Prix Productions and Stuart Benjamin of Stuart Benjamin Productions, in association with BMG. David Hirshland and Kathy Rivkin Daum are producing on behalf of BMG. Maria Elena Holly, Stephen Easley and Peter Bradley, Jr., of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, are associate producers. Patrick Shanahan, who penned the screenplay, is a co-producer.