It’s been over seven years since Tupac Shakur graced the silver screen in the Lauren Lazin directed documentary, Tupac Resurrection, narrated by the rap artist himself – using audio pieced together from interviews prior to his death.
Now, we’re getting word that Academy Award-nominated screenwriting team of Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson (Ali) have been hired to write a new script for Antoine Fuqua’s long-awaited Tupac Shakur biopic.
Vulture reports that Fuqua, who tackled the gritty Los Angeles streets in his excellent first film, Training Day, could begin filming by mid-November, assuming that Rivele and Wilkinson turn in their script on time.
According to Wilkinson, the script will not be a biopic in the traditional sense, but will instead “center on the last day of Tupac’s life, flashing back to show the final four years leading up to it.”
Rivele added that, from his point of view, Shakur was a “19th century Romantic poet who found himself in the 21st century.”
“This is the story of an artist whose character is at odds with his medium. He was a really sensitive, very romantic, talented young poet who also could sing, dance, and act. But the realities [of the hip-hop record business] were that he had to create this persona of the gangster.”
I’m not entirely sure I agree with that assessment, but I appreciate Rivele’s take on Shakur. Without a doubt, Tupac was one of the most talented rap artists in music history and his murder, as well as that of fellow rapper Notorious B.I.G., has continued to be one of the most widely discussed events in popular culture over the last 14 years.
Interestingly, Rivele and Wilkinson’s script won’t delve into who killed Tupac or the many conspiracy theories surrounding the rapper’s death (some people actually believe the government was involved in the murder for some reason – while others believe the rapper is still alive). Instead, the film will focus on why the writing team believes Tupac was murdered.
Again, the answer is somewhat esoteric.
According to Rivele, Tupac was murdered because he was trying to move beyond the “Thug Life” label that catapulted his career.
“[Tupac] was just beginning to shed that anger and look for a purer voice…He was in the process of changing himself, and entering a new phase of his life — essentially a Romantic vision — and had set up a new label, and a new production company to create it. He saw the contradiction between the musical persona of ‘Thug Life,’ and his essential nature as a gentle, sensitive person. And that was partly responsible for his murder: He was not a gangster, but the people around him were. They saw he was going to leave, that they were going to lose him, and so I think they decided to kill him.”
Obviously, you can take that interpretation with a grain of salt, but it certainly will make for a more interesting movie – more interesting than the usual by-the-books biopic.
With Antoine Fuqua behind the director’s chair, and a subject as interesting as Tupac, I expect a fairly decent movie. Now the question is who will play the famous rapper? The Vulture report says Fuqua is looking for an unknown actor to take on the role. Certainly a risk – but probably the right choice.
We’ll have more on that casting decision when it is finally announced.