Exclusive: Jamie Foxx, Will Smith Were Considered For 'Freeway' Rick Ross Role

The former drug trafficker chose Nick Cannon to play him, but he originally had other casting ideas.

"Freeway" Ricky Ross considered quite a few actors to play him in his biopic, but when it was all said and done it was Nick Cannon, who not only had the acting chops to pull the role off, but the drive to see the project through.

"I spoke to Will Smith about the role. I had a couple meetings with Jamie Foxx about it. Larenz Tate, I was really serious about Larenz," he said. "I spoke to Don Cheadle a couple of times about it. Columbus Short, I really, really liked Columbus Short for the role, but at the end of the day Nick's willing to help me build the project. He's willing to get in the trenches and roll up his sleeves and fight because I still wanna have some control."

The Nick Cassavetes-directed flick will focus on Ross' early years, between the ages of 17-25, so the 32-year old makes more sense than the more mature Will Smith. "I been watching Nick since like '96 when I was in custody in San Diego and that was one of the times when I was at my most tuneless time with the world, because I was incarcerated and I also had a life sentence," he said citing "Drumline" as his favorite Cannon flick. "He just reminds me of myself, just he took a different turn, he went to entertainment and I went to the streets."

Ross found another connection with Cannon after he found out that the "Wild 'N Out" star was once slated to play tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Before he turned to the streets, Ross was a noted tennis talent. "That was one of my first heroes Arthur Ashe... How could this dude be so right for my role," he gushed.

The reformed gangster told us that the film will detail his early life in the street as well as a bit of the complex political undertones that fueled the 1980s crack era. What Ross' biopic won't focus on is his on-going legal drama with the rapper Rick Ross, where the "Freeway" Rick hopes to prevent the Maybach Music boss from using his name on record. "I really only deal with that issue when we're going to court. It's not the highlight of my life," he explained.

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