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Eminem and 'Training Day' director look to pair up for boxing drama

June 6, 2011 |  5:06 pm


EXCLUSIVE: As recently as last month, "Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua was slated to direct a biopic about the life of Tupac Shakur. Now 24 Frames has learned that the director has stepped away from that film and is instead poised to join a movie that revolves around a different hip-hop artist: Eminem.

Fuqua is set to come aboard "Southpaw," a fictional boxing drama written and conceived by "Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter and starring the Detroit rapper, said a source briefed on the film who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about it publicly. The DreamWorks film aims to shoot later this year. Fuqua has no formal deal in place as yet. [Update, 6:52 p.m.: A person close to Fuqua said the two still must work out a number of deal points.]

A studio spokeswoman declined comment.

The project's progress is good news for fans of Eminem, who received acclaim for his turn as a talented rapper in 2002's "8 Mile" but has not taken a lead movie part since. The man born Marshall Mathers does have a propensity for working with top-tier filmmakers: "8 Mile" was directed by Curtis Hanson, and Eminem also appeared in this year's well-regarded Chrysler Super Bowl spot, which was helmed by decorated music-video director Samuel Bayer.

"Southpaw" tells of a lefty welterweight whose life is buffeted by tragedy even as he's fought his way to a title; it's informed by struggles in Eminem's own life. Boxing movies have enjoyed a new vogue in development circles since "The Fighter" became a surprise hit and an Oscar winner this last winter.

The Fuqua attachment would throw into question the fate of the Tupac movie, which, after several stops and starts, was set to shoot later this year. But the film was being developed in conjunction with the late rapper's mother, Afeni, and Fuqua was an essential creative element that helped persuade Afeni to cooperate.

Eminem has often said he was inspired by the work of Shakur and has several songs in the "Tupac: Resurrection" documentary about the slain rapper's life.

Fuqua is known for a rigorous directing style that often involves shooting in gritty neighborhoods. His police tale "Training Day" helped Denzel Washington win an Oscar. Although that film came out a decade ago, Fuqua has been in demand in Hollywood of late and had attached himself to numerous films -- including a vigilante thriller titled "Prisoners," a biopic about Pablo Escobar and, just two weeks ago, an untitled Chinese-language period romance.

He hasn't made a movie since the ensemble cop drama  "Brooklyn's Finest," which he shot in 2008.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Eminem performing at the Grammy Awards in February. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (7)

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This isn't fair to Afeni. From what I read, she did not have a deal with Morgan Creek - the production company thought to have been given the rights to make the movie. It was only when Fuqua intervened and assured Afeni about her vision for the movie that she agreed to let Morgan Creek go ahead. Now that Fuqua has backed out, can she back out of the contract as well? Does she really want to her son to be portrayed in a half-ass effort?

And what's with this movie about Eminem playing a southpaw. I can remember FOREVER from late 2007 onwards of rumours that Eminem was slated to play a Ukranian southpaw in 'The Fighter' against Mark Wahlberg's character. This rumour surfaced again in 2009 and now again.

So is Eminem playing the boxer or not? And given his physique, there is no way he'll be playing a boxer who weighs more than 145 lbs. It doesn't matter whether he himself weighs more than that. He looks emaciated and would come across on screen as 135lbs to 145 lbs.

I don't expect this to be an 8 mile though. It just will not have that success.

That movie was on a subject - hip hop, which Eminem was very intimate with, at a time when Eminem was the undoubted king of the music industry - artistically and commercially (as opposed to today where he just sells the most but instead makes pop songs) and more importantly, he acted well because it was shot in location in and around Detroit and was closely modelled on his life.

Eminem would be a good choice among musicians, if one were to bet on musician-actors. But sadly, he just doesn't have that honesty anymore.

This blows.

If the Tupac film gets a half-ass effort I will personally blame Fuqua. We need a decent director to portray this film, now with his abandoment I think the film will probably see the same fat as notorious. Badly acted, badly directed, and a disgrace to his legacy.

Quiting a film about Tupac to do a film about Eminem pretending to be a boxer? Seriously?

Antoine Fuqua, have a serious word with yourself.

This is a joke!
How dare he promise to be involved in a project that so many people have waited so long for only to back out.
I love Em but if the Pac movie turns out b grade because of this I will boycot any Fuqua movie and I will tell everyone I know to do the same.

Em was a massive Pac fan he should step up and demand Fuqua doesnt work on southpaw at the expense of Pacs movie...cmon Em!! You know how much this means to people because you are one of them people.!!

There is probably so much more to why he "stepped away" from the project. Especially since this really would have been his biggest accomplishment since Training Day. This is not the first time this has happened. The reality is that he is an average at best director who knows how to select great talent. His films have been largely successful because of the talent, not his direction. Training day was great but that was more than 10 years ago. From what I can see, there has not been much growth since his "music video" career in terms of style, cinematography choices, etc. There are other directors that can direct Tupac's story and give it the justice it deserves, should Morgan Creek decide to move forward. The Tupac story deserves to be given more attention than being a typical Hollywood commercial type of film. He was a revolutionary and an incredible artist so anything less would be a disgrace. On a more positive note Preston Holmes is producing "live to Tell" which was written by Tupac himself and Afeni is an executive producer of this project. This, I believe will succeed, as most of the films produced by Preston Holmes have been very successful.

bigeasy830… you perceive what I say is “negative”, however, my objective was not to get attention, my brothah… the point is that charging those kind of prices with that weak line up is laughable. http://bit.ly/lcv5Bs

Lighten up all you haters who jumped the gun by blasting Antoine for "leaving the Tupac project"...the "24 Frames" blog from yesterday clearly points out that Fuqua can do BOTH this AND the 2Pac film:


"But instead of letting Fuqua walk, Morgan Creek has now responded with a stroke of its own. The company has made Fuqua pay-or-play — a piece of Hollywood lingo that means Fuqua will get paid even if the company doesn't make the movie with him. Essentially, it commits producers to Fuqua and makes it on balance more likely a film will get made. A Morgan Creek spokesman confirmed the move.

Fuqua could now conceivably direct BOTH the Eminem and the Tupac films — and, if things break right, even DIRECT the Tupac movie FIRST."

Both Eminem & 2Pac are great subjects for Antoine to work with, but even moreso with Em, since the fact he is still alive present endless possibilities.

IMO Antoine Fuqua & Eminem are a potent one-two combination & the boxer scenario is very fresh, since Em has already sparred extensively with an undefeated young Detroit prospect named Vernon Paris.


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