Tupac Amaru Shakur was one of the towering figures in 1990s hip-hop, selling over 75 million records, many of which were from his numerous posthumous albums. In addition to his music, Tupac was also a talented and accomplished actor, starring in such early 1990s films as Juice, Poetic Justice and Above the Rim.
The rapper, who died at age 25 in 1996 when he was gunned down in Las Vegas, has also been portrayed in both documentaries (Nick Broomfield’s Biggie and Tupac, Lauren Lazin’s Tupac: Resurrection and an upcoming Netflix film about his death) and fiction films (Anthony Mackie played him in the 2009 Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious, and Marcc Rose portrayed him in last year’s Straight Outta Compton).
In time for the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s death, a full biopic called All Eyez On Me is set for release later this year. And today, which would have been Shakur’s 45th birthday, a new teaser was released for the film. The minute-long trailer intersperses footage of Tupac (played by Demetrius Shipp, Jr.) onstage, with shots of him fighting with police and the FBI. Throughout, there’s a voiceover from the rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira, best known as Michonne from The Walking Dead). Tupac is also shown talking to someone, possibly a journalist, and telling him, “If they kill me, I want the people to know the real story.”
All Eyez on Me is directed by Benny Boom, best known as a music video director, and stars Shipp, a newcomer to acting whose father was a collaborator with the real Tupac. Jamal Woolard, who played Biggie in Notorious, does so again here, while Lauren Cohan, also from The Walking Dead, plays Tupac’s early mentor and manager Leila Steinberg. The film was made with the cooperation of Shakur’s estate and Afeni Shakur, who passed away last month, is listed as an executive producer.
Last year’s Straight Outta Compton showed that the audience is there for music biopics about touchstone rap of the late 1980s and early ‘90s. Tupac’s short life, in particular, is particularly cinematic, and they’ve found a lead actor who certainly has the rapper’s look, physique and stage presence down. On the other hand, both the director and lead actor are unknown and untested, and not many people came to see the Biggie biopic back in 2009.
All Eyez on Me does not yet have a scheduled U.S. release date.
Source: Open Road Films