Even if you’re deeply familiar with the history of hip-hop, you probably know the name “Tupac Shakur“. One of the most influential figures in the genre’s history, Shakur’s music is revered, and his story has almost been sacrosanct in how carefully Hollywood wants to approach it. It’s a difficult balance to walk between respectful and honest, and you certainly don’t want something watered down and forgettable.
The other day, Steve spoke with producer Randall Emmett, who is working on the untitled Tupac Shakur movie. During their conversation, Emmett provided plenty of new details including when they’re planning to start filming, how they’re approaching Shakur’s life, having his mother Afeni on board to executive produce, how they’ll incorporate the East Coast/West Coast rivalry, and more. Hit the jump to learn some new details about his long-awaited movie.
That project is being put together for a June start date. We’re still worth Morgan Creek and co-financing with them. Open Road is our U.S. distributor, still, for domestic. The script is great and we’re ready to make the movie. We’re just prepping the logistics.
Emmett laid out the plan for how they’ll structure the movie, and how they’re planning to honor his memory while still being “real and raw” about his life:
I think our story, especially like a lot of biopics in the hip-hop space, will at least tease the beginning of his life, kind of tease his beginnings and kind of the people around him, then go into the key years leading up to the pinnacle of his success—those three or four key years of his rise, and the empire he built… He really defined it and paved the way for a lot of the great hip-hop artists we have today. We want to honor that, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We want to be real and raw, about the things and the gangster life that he was involved in, growing up in the way that he grew up, but we also want to honor the talent that he had because he really was, in my opinion for sure, one of the greatest talents that ever lived in music and hip-hop.
One of the more controversial, or at least more complicated aspects of Shakur’s story, is how it was wrapped up in the East Coast/West Coast rivalry, and the movie won’t shy away from that, although they won’t recklessly dive into it either:
With the movie we’re telling at the periods we’re telling, we’re addressing whatever was going on. I don’t want to give away the story, but I definitely want to say that when the East Coast/West Coast rivalry was going on, that was definitely during a key part of his life, and I would say that probably some of that is brought up. Again, we’re probably not focusing on that specifically, but it definitely affected him. And it affected all hip-hop artists, so it’s definitely something that’s addressed. We had to address it because it was a big thing in the music community at the time, and the way that it’s told in our story is we almost set the origin of it. How did it start? Why did it get to the place it got to? I was in high school/college at the time, so I’ve been so intrigued learning about it from the different parties we have as consultants on the movie about what was going on, and what was really being thought, and I hope we can show some of that in this movie.
And if you were worried they wouldn’t have the music (and how can you do any musician biopic without their music?), they’ve got it covered:
Morgan Creek bought the rights to the music, and we share 50% of the rights with Morgan Creek. So Morgan Creek acquired all the music rights from the estate when they partnered with Tupac’s mother, who has executive control of the estate.
Here’s what Emmett had to say about the project. With the movie filming this summer, expect casting news soon.