Yesterday would have been Tupac Shakur’s 45th birthday. To mark the occasion, the teaser trailer for the upcoming biopic All Eyez on Me was released. When Lainey and I saw Straight Outta Compton for the first time in theatres, we couldn’t get over how much the dude playing Tupac looked EXACTLY like him. It took us a second to figure out if it was an actor or the freaking hologram he was that spot-on. So, when I heard the Tupac biopic was finally greenlit after rumours of it happening for years, I thought for sure they would go with Marcc Rose, the doppelganger from Straight Outta Compton. I was wrong. Watch the teaser and meet me on the other side.
Apparently, Pac has multiple doppelgangers. Newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr is taking on the role of the legendary rapper and the resemblance is uncanny. He definitely looks like him and seems to have some of his mannerisms down. The head tilt at the end is eerie. So, he’s got the look but can he act? Tupac had this charm, swagger and intensity about him that I would love to see on screen. His cadence is arguably (next to Biggie’s) the most famous in the genre. So, here’s my beef with the teaser: Demetrius Shipp Jr. says three words, “Let’s get it.” For me, those words weren’t very convincing. Did they do it for you? The film will live or die by Shipp’s performance and based on this clip, I’m not sure he’s going to deliver. I hope I’m wrong.
The rest of the teaser is actually pretty good. It’s driven by a voiceover from Tupac’s late mother Afeni Shakur, played by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira. In a harrowingly relevant VO, she says, “Like all black men, you have a bullseye on your back. They are going to give you the tools you need to destroy yourself.”
Tupac was gunned down on the Las Vegas strip in 1996. He was 25. Like Straight Outta Compton, this story has so many topical elements that will still hit home today. But I’m still worried they won’t get it right. The production has been plagued with many issues since the biopic was first announced five years ago. Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua was first attached to direct but dropped out during a legal battle between Pac’s mom and the production company over music rights. Then, acclaimed director John Singleton signed on in 2014 but he dropped out shortly after too. The film went through another director before it finally settled with Benny Boom, the music video director who gave us Shake Ya Tailfeather. His only film credits are 2009’s lackluster action comedy Next Day Air and the straight to DVD S.W.A.T: Firefight. Can you see why I’m nervous?
If Antoine Fuqua and John Singleton passed on this, I think it’s a fair assumption that there’s something off with the script or the production in general. This all being said, I will definitely give the movie a chance when it comes out. If for nothing else, I’ll see it for The Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham playing Pac’s best friend Jada Pinkett Smith. Their friendship is fascinating. Plus, The Game has already given All Eyez on Me a rave review. He’s basically the Roger Ebert of our generation.