'Dope' Director Rick Famuyiwa Is Responsible For One Of The Coolest Films This Year So Here's What You Need To Know

Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that's so self-assured, so confident, that viewers simply can't help but be won over. Those movies are special, and Dope , a new film released on Friday, is one of them. About a college-bound teenager who accidentally gets caught up in drugs and crime, the movie has won huge acclaim for its actors, its soundtrack, and, most of all, its confidence in dealing with subjects like race and class — and it's all due to Rick Famuyiwa, who directed Dope off an equally bold script that he wrote.

Haven't heard of him? He'll be a household name soon enough. Famuyiwa is an established director with five movies under his belt, including 1999's The Wood and 2007's Talk To Me. Yet Dope, produced by stars like Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, is his biggest project yet: a fast-paced, action-packed, alternatively dark and hilarious film so likable that caused a bidding war at Sundance when it premiered. Its stars (Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons, and Tony Revolori) may not be famous, but thanks to the movie's irresistible charm, neither them nor Famuyiwa will stay unknowns for long. Dope is about to be big.

Here are six things to know about Dope's director, Rick Famuyiwa:

1. He Based The Lead Character On Himself

In an interview with Deadline, Famuyiwa revealed that Malcolm (Moore), the lead character, was based on himself. Both of them had aspirations to leave their crime-ridden neighborhoods, and both were passionate about not being boxed in by stereotypes. Explained Famuyiwa, "Malcolm’s point of view is one of my own, not wanting to be defined or categorized. He was definitely my double on screen.”

2. He's Worked With Some Incredible Actors

In his past films, Famuyiwa has worked with actors like Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, Taraji P. Henson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Don Cheadle (above with Ejiofor in Talk To Me), among other big stars.

3. He's A Hollywood Veteran

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Although Dope is the most talked-about movie he's ever done, Famuyiwa is very familiar with his the filmmaking process, and Hollywood, works. His career spans 20 years, and it's come full circle; the director told Miramax that he premiered a short film at Sundance in 1996, then came back in 2015 to receive standing ovations for Dope. Pretty cool.

4. He's Majorly Inspired By The '90s

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Much like Malcolm and his pals in Dope, Famuyiwa gets huge inspiration from the 1990s. He told Miramax that the movies of that era, especially those by people like Spielberg and Scorsese, were the ones that "shaped" him during film school. He wrote Dope to be a homage to those filmmakers, and to have "the look and feel all these great movies."

5. He Worked Hard To Get Dope Made


Dope may be a big hit now, but it didn't have the most auspicious beginning. Famuyiwa told Vulture that he and producer Forest Whitaker shopped the movie around to several big studios, but no one bit. They ended up going to a smaller indie studio, and while the budget had to be significantly tighter, the heart of the movie stayed the same.

6. He Has A Huge Project Up Next


Famuyiwa will direct Confirmation , an HBO movie about Anita Hill and the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas. Kerry Washington is starring as Hill, and judging by the first photos, this one's gonna be a must-see.

Images: Open Road Films (2); Focus Features; Getty Images (4)