September marked the 20th anniversary of the 1996 death of rap legend Tupac Shakur, who was shot in Las Vegas and succumbed to his injuries a few days later. Next March will mark 20 years since the gunning down of his contemporary and rival The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls. Both murders are officially unsolved, but Hollywood has explored the lives and deaths of the two men extensively.
Biggie & Tupac, a documentary from the prolific British filmmaker Nick Broomfield, arrived in 2002, with another doc, Tupac: Resurrection, coming out the following year. The 2010 ESPN doc One Night in Vegas explored Tupac’s death and the Mike Tyson fight that had taken place earlier that night, while the 2015 doc Murder Rap claimed to “solve” the killings. In addition, both rappers have had biopics made about them -- Notorious (2009) told Biggie’s story, with the Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me currently in production -- and Marcc Rose played Tupac in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Now, there’s news about yet another upcoming Biggie/Tupac film.
Forest Whitaker is in talks to join Labyrinth, an upcoming film involving a Los Angeles detective’s investigation into the murders of the two men. According to Variety, Whitaker is set to co-star in the film with Johnny Depp.
Labyrinth is based on Randall Sullivan’s book, LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., the Implication of Death Row Records' Suge Knight, and the Origins of the Los Angeles Police Scandal. In the film, acquired by Open Road with Brad Furman (San Andreas) directing, Depp is playing Russell Poole, the LAPD detective who conducted a years-long investigation of the rappers’ murders that led to both Death Row Records honcho Knight and the notorious Ramparts scandal. Variety does not say who Whitaker will be playing, although it lists the only other named character as “Jack Jackson,” a journalist seeking to overcome disgrace and resurrect his career.
This sounds like a promising project, with an intriguing premise and two acclaimed actors in the main roles. LAbyrinth book is said to be a thought-provoking treatment of what is perhaps one of hip-hop’s greatest mysteries, even though the veracity of the novel's conclusions is somewhat in question.
The only drawbacks? Since the cases have never been definitively solved, the story lacks a satisfying ending. And whether fans of Biggie and Tupac will see a film in which the main characters are neither Biggie or Tupac remains an open question.
Labyrinth does not yet have a set release date.