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Details revealed of Tupac Shakur biopic

Unlike the title of his George Clinton collaboration, you apparently will be able to see Tupac Shakur on the silver screen, with New York Magazine's Vulture blog reporting that screenwriters have been drafted to pen a long-gestating biopic on the legendary rapper.

Indeed, the Oscar-nominated team of Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson ("Ali," "Nixon") will team up with Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"), with production reportedly to begin as soon as mid-November. According to to Wilkinson's interview with Vulture, the script will not be in "any way biopic-y," a stark contrast to a previous draft that took a more verite approach. Wilkinson's interview also reveals that the script will pivot on the final day of 2Pac's life in Las Vegas, with a series of flashbacks depicting his previous four years. As for casting, no one has yet been chosen to play the mercurial MC, with reports claiming that the producers and director are searching for an unknown.

Rivele informed Vulture that "he knew nothing about [Shakur]" before diving into research, but upon immersing himself in just about everything ever written about the rapper, "it became clear that he was essentially a 19th century Romantic poet who found himself in the 21st century ... an artist whose character is at odds with his medium ... 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."

Of course, it's pure subjectivity as to whether you accept that interpretation. Anyone well-versed in the intricacies of mid-'90s hip-hop is aware that Shakur was a protean individual who shifted between several well-defined personas. Suffice to say, one of his first rap names was MC New York, but he died repping the West Coast.  And though Shakur's career dovetailed with the peak of gangsta rap, to define him as being beholden to hip-hop convention seems to underestimate the power of his personality and willful defiance.

Had he the desire, Shakur could've inevitably bucked the prevailing trends to indulge his most starry-eyed visions. By the time he was murdered, his acting career was on stable enough footing that he could have turned his back on the recording industry to write poems a la Jim Morrison in Paris. But there was a dark and glamorous appeal to the thug life and any biopic of Shakur would be well served to focus on his internal contradictions rather than external conflicts.

The interview with Rivele goes onto indicate that he believed that Shakur was in the process of breaking free from his past associations and images, an act which may have led to his downfall. Of course, it's all mere speculation. Although if you're really into over-reaching, perhaps "Tintern Abbey" and "To Live and Die in LA" aren't all that far apart.

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: Tupac Shakur. Credit: Perry C. Riddle / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (16)

As talented as Tupac was, his insistence that his "thug life" persona be front and center has set back the cause of justice and opportunity for black men a half-century or more. Millions of young African Americans continue to believe that they must erect an overtly violent, confrontational front that subsumes their talent and spirituality.

Tupac died because he couldn't quite figure it out-- a true tragedy.

Like lemmings, young black men continue to follow in his footsteps.

I think of Tupac as a truly transformational figure in pop culture. A visionary whose medium of hip hop wasn't stron enough to carry him. A wisened soul who cruised into the world as a gangsta rapper, he gave glimpses in his music, poetry, statements and movie performances of how much more he was capable of. Too bad he wasn't capable of a couple of "do-overs", one would certainly be his sexual assault conviction, as well as a violent beat down or two of a rap "rival". That sort of stuff only robbed his post-death persona. He certainly would have had a great part in Training Day".

The Greatest Of All Time. Dude was a true revolutionary. The older I get the more I realize it, and the more I see how much better he was than Biggie Smalls. Rest In Power

I have to fully agree with Jeff Weiss. Tupac was a walking contradiction. His internal struggles were what a great majority of us that appreciated him as an artist could relate to. To not highlight this aspect in a biopic is to undermine who he was as a person. I'm deeply disappointed that the studio chose two writers without any previous knowledge of 90's hip hop. To live during that time and have 18 years of perspective on Tupac is more valuable than doing research on wikipedia and conspiracy websites. The writers must have visited many websites that obviously love to pinpoint Suge as the one who set up Tupac and murdered him. While i'm sure it makes for a more dramatic story let's remember he was sitting in the drivers seat and wouldnt have put himself in harms way that night. As a Tupac fan I will not be seeing this biopic if the writers decide to go in this direction. Tupac was a brutally honest person and would not have co-signed off on this project. The writers might as well ending the film showing Tupac still alive on an island with Elvis and Hitler.

smh...why would u have someone who knows nothin about tupac write his biopic, i seriously have a feelin that they will this movie up, and if they do i'll never forgive for it, this is a once in a lifetime type of opportunity and for them to just focus on his last day and not focus on the early years of his life to the end is just disrespectful to his legacy and they'll be held accountable for it, i bet these guys don't even know he was raised in the black panther movement...i bet their gonna blame his death on suge knight...smh

As a long time fan, I'm glad they are finally putting together a movie to give younger people an idea of the kind of person 2Pac was. People still don't get that he didnt start "thug life" he just gave it a name. Young black and latino men were living that style before 2Pac and after his death. The only thing he did was bring it to the people that were unaware of what is happening to the youth in the streets. It foolish and sad that he was blamed for what he witnessed growning up on the streets. Hopefully now people will understand the person more than just his music.

anyone who says tupac was a contradiction does not know tupac or does not understand him. what kind of an argument is tupac could have just moved to paris and written poems. he was a rapper. he was not enslaved to do rap. has anyone heard his music? he openly admits to being a thug, having a soul of a thug, and passionately supporting his cause. he ain't no bank robbing, purse stealin thug, but he defies social conventions as opposed to his race. why would should he change himself completely and write different kinds of poems because some people are scared of him. rap is poetry too. poems don't have to be sonnets or haikus, etc, to be called poetry. plenty of lost souls out there it seems. besides, a contradiction would be if he talks about being a good person but does what he does. oh i am such a nice, honest, role model but is affiliated with a bad crowd.

Rob C., I completely agree with you. Though I was initially excited about the prospect of a biopic on Tupac, the fact that it's going to be written by writers that are so disassociated with Tupac's reality makes it a giant waste of money and time. I mean, REALLY? The visitation of the negative stereotypes this movie will set forth will only cause an uproar of these stereotypes again and we'll only be turning the wheel of hatred around for another whirl.

I remember running into Tupac at different LA clubs in the early nineties. He seemed to be a young punk who had a huge chip on his shoulder. Curious to see how they turn him into a misunderstood poet... the thug life is just that. Thug.

I know it will be better than "Notorious" that move was terrible.

Tupac would come into the bar i worked at next to TGI Fridays in Marina Del Ray, Ca just to get away from the crowds of people he would sit down and just enjoy a drink and smoke, he was a great guy funny, smart. I started to listen to his music in his early days and as i get older 37 now his music is even more telling now. I hope people listen and understand "thug life"

Tupac was so shockingly and brutally real and vocal about Thug Life anything on the legendary makings that were this man are going to take on a mystical aura and bring on deep feelings of loss for my peers but also of respect and awe for this brilliant person. Not only did his career co-incide with the gangsta culture but so did my teenage years becoming who I am today and Pac's legacy is that like Da Vinci or Machiavelli he was extremely observant. He wanted us all to see his world and took us with him in his '500 Benz.' 2PAC- Long Live His Legacy "..i got no love for these niggaz, there's no need to be friends, they got me under surveilance, but I ain't the one tellin'"

I wish they'd make a film of Tupac in his earlier years. Tupac is the best rapper their ever was and will be. Biggie had a few good songs but didn't compare to Pac. He was truly talented, and a good actor. He was extremely misunderstood. Such a shame now were stuck with Diddy...smh

I prefer they don't make a movie trying to cover his whole, cramming it all into a 2-hour flick.
So I'm glad they chose to cover only his last days, and use flashbacks to cover any parts of his past.
Just about everyone who wants to see this movie probably already know his life story, and there already has been a documentary about his life, one that was released in theaters.
Most biopics fall short because you can't fit a person's entire life into 2 hours, and they often succumb to corniness, especially when trying to capture a famous person's childhood years. A biopic that truly delves into Tupac's life would need to have at least two films devoted to it. I want to see the real Tupac, not some watered down one, nor some exaggerated one.

I think the thing that is so remarkable about Shakur is the life he came from. His mother was a drug addict, he had no father figure, yet he made such deep, profound music. We truly only got to see a sliver of Tupac Shakur's potential. He was only 25 when he was murdered.

2pac .2pac! every day i sleep ,wakeup i wonder what would be if he would be stll alive ! cuz we got recognize his the best even his dead, only god knows and he ,why the death of him ,where ever he at if he can hear me or see me rets in peaz west side thug life


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