Today in history… September 13, 1996… Tupac Shakur died at a Las Vegas hospital at age 25, 6 days after being fatally shot in a driveby shooting that still remains unsolved, despite claims by the LAPD and Tupac’s former bodyguard, most recently, that they know who killed him.
So will that Tupac biopic that’s been in development for a few years, ever happen?
Antoine Fuqua’s Tupac project, which seemed like it would be made, appears to be in Limbo. As you might recall, it had been greenlit by Morgan Creek Productions, with shooting expected to begin in September 2011, with Oscar-nominated screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson (Ali & Nixon) hired to write the script.
The story would have reportedly centered on the last day of Tupac’s life, and included flashback sequences that showed the previous years leading up to his death.
Screenwriter Rivele added that they weren’t interested in showing who killed Tupac, but rather why anyone would want to kill him.
The project had even begun casting in the spring of 2012, with the plan being to go with mostly unknowns. Fuqua said, “That’s the goal… I want to discover someone new… I want to discover a lot of new people if I can. Obviously I’m going to have to put some people in it that you know, just because actors have different skills. I want to go to the streets and find him anywhere he might be in the world.”
However, despite what seemed like forward motion on the project at the time, nothing public seems to have come from all that, and Fuqua eventually left the project. There was talk of John Singleton taking over, but that never panned out.
So where is it now?
Last we reported on it, in January, Michael Starrbury, who penned the screenplay for George Tillman Jr’s The Invevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete was been hired by Morgan Creek Production to rewrite the script for their long-in-gestation Tupac biopic.
They even provided an official early but brief synopsis, which read:
The film centers on the life and legacy of Tupac Shakur, from his emergence as a young artist, through his imprisonment, and last prolific years that catapulted him into the upper echelon of American cultural icons.
No word yet on a timeline for Starrbury to complete his rewrite and for production to eventually begin. But it looks like the project is still very much alive, which should please Tupac fans.
Afeni Shakur is co-producing the film.
No director is attached yet, although one will be selected and announced soon, which will then be followed by casting.
Shooting will take place primarily in Atlanta.
Universal Pictures will release the film (Morgan Creek distributes its films domestically through a deal with Universal Pictures).
By the way, there is also a Tupac Shakur-inspired stage musical with Kenny Leon helming.
It’ll be titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, the title of a track from 2Pac’s second solo album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
However, it won’t be a Tupac biopic per say; director Leon first mentioned the project 2 years ago, while doing press for The Mountaintop (Katori Hall’s award-winning play), stating:
“The idea was always to make a musical inspired by his music and not to do an autobiographical approach to his life or anything like that… And because I always thought that Tupac was a prophet and I thought if everybody could hear his words and hear his stories, they would see what I see.”
The project has gone through a series of workshops since then, and so I’d say it is likely going to happen, sometime late next year, since Leon will be directing Denzel Washington in another revival of Raisin In The Sun, in the spring of 2014.
Lastly, I should also mention that, last year, a few years ago, it was revealed that Tupac wrote a screenplay before his death – the only one he ever penned – and rights to that screenplay were acquired by a production team planning to make a filmed version of it.
Tupac is said to have written the script while he was in jail for a weapons charge, written over an 11-month sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., in 1995. In 2011, Preston Holmes and Ivan Juzang’s NStar Studios (who collaborated with Shakur’s mother to make documentary Tupac: Resurrection), acquired the rights to script, with plans to produce a film, on a budget of $11 million.
Titled, Live 2 Tell, the script was to center on a teenage drug lord’s efforts to leave the life of crime he leads. Not much else has been revealed since then.