Straight Outta Compton originally included Dr. Dre's assault of Dee Barnes

Dr. Dre
(Image credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

The N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton is a massive critical and commercial hit, with an Oscar campaign in the works — but one major omission from the real-life story continues to draw scrutiny and criticism. In January 1991, after a TV segment he felt depicted N.W.A. negatively, Dr. Dre physically assaulted Dee Barnes — then host of the FOX series Pump It Up! — at a party in Hollywood. Months later, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Dre and several other N.W.A. members were entirely unremorseful about the incident. "I just did it, you know," said Dre. "Ain't nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain't no big thing — I just threw her through a door."

"That event isn't depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don't think it should have been, either," wrote Barnes in a recent post at Gawker. "The truth is too ugly for a general audience. [...] But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie's timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, 'Uhhh, what happened?' Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton's revisionist history."

As it turns out, Dre's assault of Barnes did originally appear in Straight Outta Compton. Excerpting from an earlier draft of the script, the Los Angeles Times documents a scene in which Dre — described with "eyes glazed, drunk, with an edge of nastiness, contempt" — confronts Barnes about the interview. When she replies that she was doing her job, the tension escalates; after she throws her drink in his face, he begins "flinging her around like a rag-doll, while she screams, cries, begs for him to stop."

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Why didn't the scene make it into the movie? During a Q&A at an early screening, director F. Gary Gray expounded on the difficulty of deciding what to include and what to cut. "There are so many things that you can add or subtract," he said. "Cube always said, 'You can make five different N.W.A movies.' We made the one we wanted to make."

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Scott Meslow

Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for He has written about film and television at publications including The Atlantic, POLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.