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Q&A Interview w/ USA Network UNSOLVED Cast Josh Duhamel, Wavyy Jonez, Marcc Rose, Jimmi Simpson

Maj Canton - March 6, 2018




On Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT, USA Network premiered UNSOLVED: THE MURDERS OF TUPAC & THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. Spanning nearly 20 years, UNSOLVED explores the dual police investigations -- one in 1997 and the other in 2006 -- into the murders of these iconic American artists, murders that are, incredibly, still unprosecuted to this day.  The series takes us beyond the headlines, exploring the complicated friendship between B.I.G. and Tupac and delving into a culture that both defined them and was forever changed in the wake of their untimely death. The 10-episode limited series chronicles the dual police investigations of Detectives Greg Kading and Russell Poole into the controversial murders of two of the rap industry's most legendary players, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (aka The Notorious B.I.G.). In seeking the truth behind the conspiracies, the one question that begs to be answered is: how can a case this famous still be unsolved?



This past January at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, USA Network presented a panel that included cast members Josh Duhamel, Wavyy Jonez , Marcc Rose, Jimmi Simpson, Bokeem Woodbine and Executive Producers Anthony Hemingway, Kyle Long.  Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.


Pictured: (l-r) Anthony Hemingway, Executive Producer/Director; Kyle Long, Creator/Executive Producer; Marcc Rose; Josh Duhamel; Mark Taylor, Executive Producer;

Jimmi Simpson; Wavyy Jonez; Bokeem Woodbine; Lyah Beth LeFlore, Co-Producer/Music Supervisor -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBCUniversal)


Bokeem Woodbine as Officer In Charge Daryn Dupree -- (Photo by: Richie Knapp/USA Network)

Question: Will we get the facts or will part of each episode be coming from imagination?

Kyle Long: This show is crazy accurate. If you made up this story, people wouldn’t believe it. There’s this one scene where Biggie and Tupac are running around in the backyard with guns. That really happened. I feel like it’s going to be one of those shows where people are like, “did that really happen?” and then it’s like “Yeah, this really happened.”

Bokeem Woodbine: This story of the assassination of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, they are exemplary of something I’ve always said – that “truth is stranger than fiction.” Their real-life stories were allegorical and we can draw all types of wisdom from what really happened to these young men. They were so far ahead I think they hadn’t even hit their peak. The things that happened to them were real and there are so many instances, like Kyle said, you are going to doubt they really happened. This is a very important show, even if you’re not really into hip-hop. I suggest everybody tune in.

Josh Duhamel as Detective Greg Kading -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Question: How much research did you do into your characters?

Josh Duhamel: I worked very tightly with Greg Kading, author of the book Kyle used to research the show. I used him as a resource constantly. I wanted to know what it felt like to actually go through that and how invested he and Russell Poole got in this. They became so invested in finding justice for both Tupac and Biggie’s families.

Jimmi Simpson: I did some research. I believe in storytelling. I’m here to open perspective, share perspective, whatever I can. This story is important. The man I play believed in the system the way a lot of us don’t, that I don’t. I think there are a lot of systemic troubles that we need to change. And Russell thought everything was great and then this happened and his perspective changed. And it broke his heart. He gave his entire life to figuring out what the Hell happened. It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to tell this story.

Anthony Hemingway: One of the things that really excited me was this opportunity to humanize these men and this story. There’s such a beautiful dichotomy here, where the narrative runs to the extreme. We had the opportunity to see the opposite sides of the same coin, see different perspectives, which is one of our major themes of the show. We’re so used to our culture and the media having told so many negative stories about Tupac and Biggie. I think this is our opportunity to really lay into their friendship and understand them as human beings and really kind of peel the layers behind them. Connected to that was the two stories paralleled by both teams of detectives. The journey of the show really does well giving us this human study and allowing it to relate to what we’re dealing with today in our culture.

Marcc Rose as Tupac Shakur -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Question: Marcc and Wavyy, can you talk about your connections to your characters?

Marcc Rose: Jumping in and doing research, I learned the layers of Tupac. I’m used to seeing him as just the artist and peeling away those layers I was able to see that we relate in so many ways. He was filled with passion and I’m filled with passion. He came from a background of strong, black people and I connect with that in the most spiritual way possible.

Wavyy Jonez: Being a hip-hop artist, it meant a lot to me to actually go back and try to find what could have disconnected those two. We go through these things day to day not just with our family but with our friends. And to be able to really go back and just research was a great experience. I really enjoyed going back to find out who Christopher Wallace was more than just Notorious B.I.G.

Kyle Long: One of the things that was so much fun about this process was bringing in just people from different backgrounds. We all just bonded so much about our different life experiences and it comes out in the show. It is very much a show about obsession and perception.

Jimmi Simpson: The result is a stunning television show that is about real facts. I showed it to my 75 year old Arizona dad and his 70 year old wife, Wavyy shows up and my dad goes, “is that Tupac?” And within fifteen minutes his wife goes, “This show is wonderful.” At the end, they were just floored because someone had done it right. Part of the reason Kyle didn’t grab the music is he knows these murders were awful to these people and he didn’t want to exploit the music and try to shift perspective. He wanted to keep it open. It’s just big heart all pushing towards telling the story in the most beautiful possible way.

Wavyy Jonez as Christopher "Biggie" Wallace -- (Photo by: Richie Knapp/USA Network)

Question: Wavyy, was Biggie your inspiration for going into hip-hop?

Wavyy Jonez: Absolutely. And just like everything he talked about, it’s so New York. Coming from a single-parent home and all the things he went through, it’s like chasing that dream and finally conquering it. And to be so massive and to lose your life like that, it’s so tragic. I’m glad this cast and crew came together and USA and UCP allowed us to bring hip-hop to the forefront.


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by USA Network, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.

Episode 101 - "Wherever It Leads"
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
In 1997, Detective Russell Poole launches the first major investigation into the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. Ten years later, Detective Greg Kading re-opens the still-unsolved case.

Episode 102 - "Nobody Talks"
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Kading and Dupree brief the Biggie Smalls Task Force on the case’s popular theories. Poole and Miller travel to Las Vegas to investigate a possible connection between Biggie and Tupac’s murders.

Episode 103 - "The Mack"
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Frustrated by their lack of progress, the Task Force questions Kading’s leadership. RHD investigates a bank robbery. Biggie warns Tupac that his new friends are dangerous.

Episode 104 - "Take Your Best Shot"
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Task Force tracks down a person of interest. After Poole is put on a new case, Miller interviews Biggie’s widow. Tupac faces legal trouble and goes to record at Quad Studios in New York.

Episode 105 - "The Art of War"
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Poole and Tyndall investigate a dirty cop. The Task Force receives promising results from a ballistics test. Biggie releases “Who Shot Ya,” spurring Tupac to make a risky alliance.

Episode 106 - "East Coast, West Coast"
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Task Force makes progress on a suspect. Poole continues to be in conflict with Lt. Larson. Biggie and Tupac find themselves at the center of a growing rivalry between their record labels.

Episode 107 - "Half the Job"
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Poole takes his theory about Biggie’s murder outside of the LAPD. Kading and Dupree have a long-awaited sit down. Rising tensions between Biggie and Tupac boil over at the Soul Train Awards.

Episode 108 - "Tupac Amaru Shakur"
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Task Force gets help from an FBI informant with a questionable past. Poole shares his work with Voletta Wallace. After being shot, Tupac clings to life in a Las Vegas hospital.

Episode 109 - "Christopher"
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Task Force has a new target. Poole runs into his old partner, who has updates on the Biggie case. Voletta Wallace visits her son’s hotel room the day after his death.

Episode 110 - "Unsolved?"
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
The Task Force and Russell Poole chase down their final leads.