F. Gary Gray was standing on a South L.A. street, filming a scene for the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” when the acclaimed director received a phone call from one of the men depicted in the movie.
Marion “Suge” Knight was on the other end of the line, and he was angry, according to testimony by detectives earlier this year. Knight, the Compton-born former rap mogul who founded Death Row Records, was furious about his depiction in the film and the fact that he had not received any compensation, court records show.
Eventually, Gray hung up. At least two more phone calls came, but Gray ignored them. A text message soon followed.
“I will see u in person … u have kids just like me so let’s play hardball,”
Knight, 52, wrote, ending the message with a pair of expletives and a racial slur, according to court records.
The messages left Gray so shaken that he spent nearly two days dodging questions about the incident during a grand jury hearing earlier this year, according to transcripts made public for the first time on Friday afternoon.
During the hearing, Gray repeatedly claimed he could not remember anything about the messages, according to a copy of the transcripts reviewed by The Times. At one point, Gray seemed to have difficulty even recalling details about the film he’d directed, which was nominated for an Academy Award and received numerous other film tributes.
The director’s testimony — or lack of it — illustrated the level of fear Knight had instilled in Gray, Deputy Dist. Atty. Cynthia Barnes told the grand jury.
“He’s so afraid he came in here and lied under oath,”
“He’s perjuring himself because he’s that afraid.”