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Tupac Shakur (1971-1996)

  1. Allen Payne, New Jack City, 1990.    The rapper lost his audition as Gee Money because he looked younger than Wesley Snipes as Nino Brown. Surely that was obvious from the get go as Snipes was born in 1962 and Shakur in 1971… Shakur was very Nino Bownish as Bishop in Juice, 1991.  

  2. Omar Epps, Juice, 1991.   For his and Gerard Brown’s film school script moving into real cinemas, first-time director Ernest Dickerson (Spike Lee’s regular cinematographer) saw four hopefuls for Quincy: rappers Anthony “Treach” Criss and Money-B, Donald Faison (chosen for a student), hip-hopper Daryl Mitchell.  Or, indeed five when when Shakur, who’d simply gone along for the ride with rapper  pal Criss, asked to read.  Dickerson gave him Q’s lines and liked what he heard. Stick around, he said… and the rapper later nailed Bishop when he got so carried he hurfkled a chair across the room He then used his new found juice (’90s slang for respect and power) to get Criss a cameo as one of Radames’ homies. (And to think director Richard Donner had wanted to turn all the fury into a comedy. Lethal Weapon 95?)

  3. Tyrin Turner, Menace II Society, 1993.      Shakur had the lead role until having a (literal) fight with director Allen Hughes. 
  4. Omar Epps, Higher Learning, 1994.       A movie star due to John Singleton's Poetic Justic, Tupac was arrested in Atlanta   and charged with shooting two off-duty cops. (The charges were   later dropped). "I really wanted him," complained Singleton, "because he's a black folk hero, I guess the studio has enough controversy to deal with." His replacement came from Shakur's 1991   debut,   Juice
  5. Mykelti Williamson, Forrest Gump, 1994.       Auditioned for Gump’s mate, Bubba Blue: “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That - that's about it.”
  6. Michael Jai White, Spawn, 1996. All the obvious heavyweights - Cuba Gooding Jr, Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Tony Todd (Candyman), Denzel Washington and Tarantino fvourites Samuel L Jackson, Ving Rhames - were seen for the movies’ first black superhero. (The later filmed Black Pantherwas born first, in a 1966 comic - 26 yearsbefore Spawn).  Plus the usual rappers  LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur. And the inevitable unknown: Allen Payne, from New Jack City (with Snipes). Not easy, said White, to win audience sympathy for “the most tragic character I’ve encountered,” a government assassin back from hell. Hence, Spawn 2and Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battlenever battled.
  7. Timmy Davidson, Woo, 1998.       Five days before his sixth movie began, Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas - second time he had been shot at in two years.  He was 25.  Title role was played by his ex-lover, Jada Pinkett   - now married to Will Smith.
  8. Chris Tucker, Rush Hour, 1998.        The spec script by novelist Ross LaManna in 1995 was first aimed at two black cops, Martin Lawrence - and stand-up Dave Chappelle as Detective James Carter. Then black and white with Lawrence and Chris Farley (who ODed at 33 in 1997). Next Carters included Shakur (murdered at 25 in 1996), Eddie Murphy, Will Smith. Disney hated director Brett Ratner’s final Asian/black duo - Jackie Chan, Chris Rock - and the $33m project moved to New Line. And global glory: $244,386,864. Plus sequels for a total of $849,734,899. Sorry about that, Disney.
  9. Tyrese Gibson,  Baby Boy, 2000. Auteur John Singleton had always envisioned Shakur as  Jody.  Gibson now played him, with a Tupac mural on his wall and his music everywhere.
  10. Samuel L Jackson, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, 2004.

 





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