(AllHipHop Interviews) The world has been waiting to see Hip Hop icon Tupac Shakur’s story on the big screen for years, and a film about the charismatic performer is now officially in the works.
The 2Pac biopic will be directed by accomplished filmmaker John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice). Singleton also penned the script along with Jeremy Haft and Ed Gonzalez. The movie is being produced by Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films in association with Open Road Films and Program Pictures.
Program Picture’s CEO L.T. Hutton is responsible for taking the film to Morgan Creek after obtaining a first-look deal with the company. Hutton, who spent time working at Death Row Records with Pac, placed the project as his number one priority. Two years later the film is in pre-production with an expected release date of 2015.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Hutton to get the scoop about the upcoming 2Pac movie. The music and movie producer gives details about the direction the film is taking and what fans can expect from its soundtrack.
How much time did you spend with Pac before he died?
I actually spent a ton of time with Pac once he came to Death Row. I followed his career and life even before he came to Death Row. Him and Snoop were close, and I’m originally from the Dogg Pound so when he came to Death Row I got to work with him. We had a lot of stuff stacked in the vault. We rocked out real tough.
How far along is the production process of the film at this point?
We’re almost all the way there. People want to know what happened, and why did it take so long. Well, Richard Pryor still isn’t made. Marvin Gaye still isn’t made. Some of the greatest biopics of all time still haven’t been made, so that’s a question for Hollywood on why things take so long. It’s a process. At this point, hopefully we’ll be shooting in a few months. We should have a 2015 release date on the film. We’re pretty much ready to go.
Have you begun casting for the film yet?
We’ve been casting throughout this entire process on the 2Pac role, because that is the main role. It’s so hard to find that type of energy, look, and skills. For the other roles that we have, we’ll begin casting probably within a month.
You mentioned some of the other roles. There are a few famous women that have been attached to 2Pac like Jada Pinkett and Kidada Jones. Will that part of his life be addressed in the film?
I’m not going to disclose exactly who you’re going to see, but you will see a lot of those women that were in his life. We’re covering a lot of deep intimate moments – different sides you won’t see on the Internet.
There’s other women that he talked to after the  shooting. He went to certain people’s houses as soon as he got out of the hospital. You’re going to see a lot of different relationships that he had with various people. Not on a romantic level, just on different types of levels. He had a lot of female friends, so you’ll definitely see some of that stuff.
How is Pac’s complicated relationship with Biggie going to be covered?
People know bits and pieces. I was fortunate enough to be right in the middle of all of it, so I know exactly what happened. It’s going to be covered like you haven’t seen it before. We’re going to dispel some of the myths about it. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s more realistic than Notorious. It’s not a diss. It’s just the truth.
We play it exactly how it happened which both of them deserve. It was a little bit different than how they portrayed it in that film. This one is going to be organic to show that these two young black men were truly friends before the nonsense.
It’s just a shame what happened, and how something that really could have been resolved, never got resolved. Life is too short for these types of petty beefs. As young black men, we have to be smarter. We give our lives to things that could be worked out. You will get some of those lessons from the story we tell, because it is a tragedy that two young men lost their lives. Not because of the East Coast-West Coast beef, but because of the environment that we lived in at that time.
No one has been prosecuted for Pac’s murder. There’s still a lot of speculation about who was involved in his death. Will the movie explore that topic?
On that topic, I say, “go see the movie.” [laughs] The only thing people know exactly is that Tupac was cut down before his time, and how we deal with that is going to be very exciting.
How involved is Pac’s mother Afeni Shakur in the making of the movie?
She has a huge role. She has approval of a lot of things, and she wants the best portrayal of her son possible. She doesn’t have a problem with any of the truth. She just wants to make sure that everything was told correctly.
Is anyone else from his life directly involved?
Everybody. You put the list out, and there’s really not one person that hasn’t been talked to or involved. It’s a balancing act… one day in 2Pac’s life is a movie. He had so many relationships. Everybody rocked with him. Him, E-40 and Richie Rich’s scenario could be one movie. His relationship with the Outlawz, that’s a movie. His relationship with Kidada, that’s a movie. His relationship with Jada, that’s a movie. All these are individual films have to be cut down to moments to fit into two and a half hours.
What about Dr. Dre and Suge Knight?
I spoke with Dre. We have Dre’s take on it. I talk to Suge every day. This is not a one-sided story. 2Pac had multiple sides, and we would do this movie a disservice if we didn’t have all those sides. You’re going to see the full 360 circumference of Tupac.
We’re going deep. We’re going to what made the man, what fueled the man, what was his passion, what burned inside of him to make him go in the studio like that. He was on a timeframe. One thing I noticed about Pac is that he was on a clock. We want the audience to feel that drive and passion, because that’s what separated him from the pack – his passion, his aggression, his knowledge, his strength.
One of the problems with other biopics is they never show that passion. They never show what even sparked that motivation. You want to know why people do what they do. What makes them tick. In this film, we’re getting into that.
Does that mean we’ll get to see parts of Pac’s early life? It seems like that’s the one part of Tupac that has been documented the least – before the fame.
What I’ve explained to everybody is that this won’t be a long music video. We cut a lot of that type of stuff, and got into exactly what you just asked for, because that’s what people want to see. What made him Tupac? We know the famous Tupac. We know all that. We’re going to give you a splash of that too, but we’re spending our chips on that drama of: Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Everything else is out there. You can find that, but what you can’t find is what made this guy who he is – that earlier part, 16, 17 years old.
One of my favorite interviews of 2Pac was the one where he was about 17, and he was looking right into the camera and talking about what he was going to do in his life.
That interview is one interview that I use. I explained to John Singleton when talking about the vision of the film… the thing in that interview you saw a kid that had a vision and a great mind. After the camera stopped rolling, where did he go? He went home to the Marin projects. We show that, and we set that world. We get into how he had dreams outside of his environment.
That’s what I tried to explain to these executives that I worked with. If you’re not giving people information that they can’t go find themselves on YouTube, then there’s no reason to do the film. It has to give information and answer questions on culture. Nine times out of ten, people like Tupac experienced the same thing at the same time.
That’s why people have that deep connection, because he was speaking to the masses at that time – the downtrodden. He was speaking to me, honestly. Those words cut through. I was producing, but told Pac when we first rocked that I heard “Brenda’s Got A Baby” as a Hip Hop fan. And it moved me. So for the people who are looking into this film and don’t have the Hip Hop knowledge, and are only going to draw from this film, our mission is to educate them so when they come out, they really understand what Hip Hop is and that it’s not just music. It was a driving force in changing America.
He wasn’t just Afeni’s son, he was America’s son. He was a product of America. America made that man. I’m a product of what 2Pac fought for – a young, black executive that came from the music world that went into the film world. Being accepted is part of 2Pac’s vision.
It’s pretty well-known that Pac recorded a lot of music before he passed. Will there be any of his unreleased music used in the film or the soundtrack?
Maybe a few unreleased, but they won’t be remixed on the soundtrack. They’ll be originals. A lot of people loved Pac, had a lot of compassion and respect for him, and never got a chance to really rock with him. So it’s a tribute album based on the film. The soundtrack just won’t be a lot of remixes and old songs. Pac in fact won’t be on there, but songs that other artists get to make will.
I got some submissions the other day. One song is called “All Eyez On Me,” from a kid named A.B., that’s absolutely incredible. I got so many songs, it will be like the double album All Eyez On Me. It will be songs from mainstream, marquee artists along with a few other people. Of course, you’ll have Outlawz songs. There’s a Thug Life song. It’s going to be a huge tribute album. It’s going to be fantastic.
The producers of the Tupac movie are James G. Robinson, David Robinson, L.T. Hutton, Randall Emmett, George Furla, and John Singleton. Executive producers are Afeni Shakur, Tom Ortenberg, and Peter Lawson.