One of the most iconic moments in the first season of Luke Cage is when Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) stood in front of his Notorious B.I.G. poster, framed by Biggie’s crown. Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker talked about that moment to The Shadow League, saying that if he could bring Biggie on the show, he would.
“Big was actually my model for Cottonmouth, and honestly if Big was alive, I would have cast him as Cottonmouth,” he said. “The thing about the real Christopher Wallace was that he had that duality. If you got to know Chris, he was funny, but then at the same time he had that side where he would flip, and he was completely kinda gangster.”
Before getting into television writing, Coker was a hip-hop journalist and interviewed Biggie several times over the course of his career, including the very last time before the rapper was shot and killed.
Coker said Biggie’s influence in Cottonmouth, including the last-minute decision to have a Biggie poster in Cottomouth’s office, was a “personal homage” to the rapper who Coker credits with changing his life.
“Had I not interviewed Big, both the very first time, two weeks after Ready to Die came out and I was also the last person to interview him before he got killed–if I didn’t have those interviews and the interviews in between, I wouldn’t have been able to write the book Unbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of The Notorious B.I.G.,” said Coker. “If I didn’t write that book, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to co-write the movie Notorious. If I didn’t co-write Notorious, I wouldn’t have gotten to write for Southland and for television. All these experiences led to me to be able to create and run this show.”