In the 1990s, the world of hip hop was shaken to the core when legends Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were killed in drive-by shootings six months apart. In their short careers, both artists had left a substantial impact on the music industry and continue to influence musicians to this day. The two murders officially remain unsolved to this day, though a prevailing belief is that the incidents were connected due to the East Coast – West Coast rap rivalry of the ’90s.
A Tupac biopic titled All Eyez On Me began production back in January 2016, but when it comes to a figure as prominent as Shakur, there’s always room for more than one film. The investigations of the deaths of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. could make for a compelling drama in their own right, and now such a project is coming through the pipeline with none other than Johnny Depp attached to star.
According to Screen Daily, Depp has signed on to play Russell Poole in the movie, which is titled Labyrinth. For those not in the know, Poole was the Los Angeles detective who tried to solve the two cases. He encountered numerous dead ends during his search, but he did expose corruption within the LAPD, which brought to light the various misconducts of the department’s anti-gang unit. Brad Furman, who helmed The Lincoln Lawyer and The Infiltrator, will direct Labyrinth. Christian Contreras wrote the screenplay based on the Randall Sullivan book of the same name.
Depp’s star isn’t as bright as it once was, but the actor is still very capable of knocking out a solid performance when the material is there. Last year, he earned high marks (including a Screen Actors Guild nomination) for his turn as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. If nothing else, Labyrinth should be a nice change-of-pace for Depp, as he takes a break from playing his typical “whacky” characters like the Mad Hatter and Jack Sparrow. He has experience in the crime drama genre, so there’s a chance Poole is right in his wheelhouse as a dramatic thespian.
The creative team behind Labyrinth is also encouraging. While neither Lincoln Lawyer nor The Infiltrator were game changers in any way, they were both solid entries in their respective genres and provided their leads with strong roles. The former of the two unofficially kicked off the “McConaissance,” so maybe Depp’s career can make a similar bounce back. Some viewers may be concerned that Labyrinth marks Contreras’ first outing as a screenwriter, but his script made the 2015 Black List, which is a collection of the most-liked unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. It obviously has some support, meaning the potential for a great movie is there.
Miriam Segal of Good Films, the production company behind Labyrinth, is aiming to start production later this year and has flown out to the Toronto Film Festival to shop the project around to distributors. The film is early in development, but there should be much interest in it as it heats up. There’s no denying the story is interesting, and while Depp isn’t a huge draw anymore, he still has his fair share of fans. Labyrinth may not be a surefire awards contender at this juncture, but it sounds like it could be a quality film, which is always a good thing.
We’ll keep you updated on Labyrinth as more information becomes available.
Source: Screen Daily