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Let’s Cast the Sublime Biopic
Director Francis Lawrence is working on a biopic of ‘90s ska-reggae-alternative rock band Sublime. Casting suggestions for Sublime lead singer Bradley Nowell, the band’s other members, friend and No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, Rick Rubin, and more.

Let’s Cast the Sublime Biopic

Most people familiar with Sublime’s music know front man Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose right as his life was taking off: He’d just gotten married and had a son, and his band’s best album was weeks away from being released. Now the group’s backstory is set to be told in full with Hunger Games’ director Francis Lawrence signing on to a just-announced biopic of the trio. Unlike most bands to get the biopic treatment, Sublime only stuck around long enough to put out three records — 40oz. to Freedom, Robbin’ the Hood, and the self-titled Sublime — and didn’t achieve success until after Nowell passed and the group disbanded.

That Sublime were from Long Beach is vital to who they were and the music they made (consider the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish, two other ska punk bands in the ’90s who were, crucially and clearly, from Boston and Orange County). While most of the country was looking to Seattle’s grunge scene in the early ’90s, Sublime was mixing punk rock with dancehall, sampling hip-hop and dubstep, and singing about prostitutes, riots, and getting high to surfers, skaters, and stoners all along the beach cities. But because Sublime’s music has stood the test of time and earned them millions of fans, Nowell has, for better or worse, become SoCal’s Johnny Cash — shirtless and stoned rather than the “Man in Black.” It always seemed inevitable that his tale would be adapted for a wider audience. Will the rest of the world like what they see when the movie comes out? Difficult to tell, but maybe with the right players, Sublime’s story can make it as far as their music did. Here’s who we think can step in to tell the story. (Spoiler: We didn’t cast Lou Dog.)

Bradley Nowell (front man): Joe Keery

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images and Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Here is a little detail about how Rick Rubin reacted to getting a Sublime CD to listen to, via the Ringer: “As he drove off, he flung it out the window of his limo onto Sunset Boulevard, cracking it into pieces.” And you’re telling me you can’t see a heavily bearded Jack Black do the exact same thing, perhaps along with a maniacal laugh at the idea that this band could ever make it? Of course he could do those things! And if Black isn’t available for this brief, dismissive cameo, call up Brett Gelman, whose facial hair and smarm are practically unparalleled. — R.H.


  • The Enduring Legacy of Sublime
  • Tribeca’s Sublime Doc Mostly Misses the Point

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