Nelly to play Chuck Berry in forthcoming Buddy Holly biopic

Gary Miller/Getty Images
(Image credit: Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Multi-platinum hip hop artist, entrepreneur and actor Nelly (Cornell Iral Haynes Jr) has been cast as late legend and rock n' roll electric guitar pioneer Chuck Berry in the forthcoming Buddy Holly biopic, Clear Lake.

The film is being directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) from a screenplay written by Patrick Shanahan. Clear Lake has been authorised by the Buddy Holly estate through record label BMG, which manages the Holly estate and US publishing rights to the late icon's recording catalogue.

Irish actor Ruairi O'Connor (The Spanish Princess) has already been cast as Holly, and Colin Hanks will also feature as Holly’s manager and producer Norman Petty.

Orange IS The New Black star Diane Guerrero has been cast in the role of Holly’s wife, Maria Elena Holly. 

The real Maria Elena Holly will be an associate producer on Clear Lake. 

 “I found myself attracted to Clear Lake because the script tells the tragic story of Buddy Holly and his era in fascinating detail and with vivid characterisations," Beresford told Variety earlier this year. 

“Needless to say, the added plus of all the wonderful music was also a major lure.”

The film will look at Buddy Holly's rise alongside his rock n' roll peers in the late 50s. Holly died In the early hours of February 3, 1959 at the age of 22 when the  Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft carrying him and fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper took off from the local runway in Mason City, Iowa close to where the had been performing at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.

A release date for the film is TBC.  

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.