In the two years since director John Singelton dropped out of the project, the long-developing biopic of Tupac Shakur has progressed no further. Both Singleton and his predecessor Antoine Fuqua reportedly moved on after failing to find the perfect actor to fill the Tupac's sneakers. But the film has clearly remained much on Singleton's mind, leading to this morning's news that he's now attached to direct, produce and write it once again.
Tupac, as if you need telling, was a hip-hop superstar, with albums like Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me and The Don Killuminati all achieving multi-platinum status. He was also building an extremely credible acting career before his untimely death in a drive-by shooting in 1996. The murderer has never been officially identified (although Nick Broomfield's Biggie & Tupac posits some pretty credible theories) and the case remains unsolved.
Singleton at the helm of the biopic has always made a lot of sense, since he actually knew Shakur: he directed him in Poetic Justice in 1993. “Tupac was the guy who I planned to do a lifetime of films with,” Singleton says now. “His passing deeply affected my life as well as countless people in this world. His life story is as important to my generation.” He remains close to the rapper's family, with Pac's mother Afeni Shakur-Davis on board this film as an executive producer.
The screenplay has passed through the hands of Steve Bagatourian (American Gun), Stephen J. Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson (Ali, Nixon), and Brian Tucker (Broken City). Early versions were structured around Pac's time on Suge Knight's Death Row Records, with lengthy flashbacks to his earlier life and rise to stardom. Whether Singleton will stick to that in his re-write or freak his own style remains to be seen.
The next job, once again, is to find the film's elusive protagonist. Anthony Mackie played Tupac off-Broadway to some acclaim a few years ago, but his short turn in the Biggie-opic Notorious was met with less enthusiasm and he doesn't seem to be in the running here. Open casting calls have also resulted in nothing to date, so Singleton still has his work cut out. Unless he finally has someone in mind already... Filming is currently pencilled in for June.