Ice Cube’s loss was apparently Tupac Shakur‘s gain.
The former Digital Underground member may have gained a lead role and more fans with acting in John Singleton‘s “Poetic Justice,” but had things turned out differently, it would’ve been Cube, instead of Shakur who moviegoers would’ve seen as Lucky. As Singleton noted, starring in a love story was not an option for Cube.
“Tupac got in to the movie because Ice Cube was supposed to star opposite Janet Jackson,” Singleton admitted. “I go to Ice Cube and I said, ‘I want you to be in a romance.’ He said, ‘Man, I can’t do that. I’m not a romantic guy.’”
Singleton’s comments come on the day “Poetic Justice is released on Blu-ray™ with all-new bonus content, Including never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes, original screen test and retrospective interview with the director.
As fate wold prove, Shakur’s unforgettable movie debut in “Juice” was the signal for Singleton to recruit the future rap legend for “Poetic Justice.” Shakur’s interest in working with Singleton was already there, but it was the chance to work with Jackson that closed the deal.
“So Cube turned me down. And I had just saw ‘Juice.’ I would call up Tupac and I was like, ‘I want to do a movie with you.’ and he’s like ‘What?’ Tupac and I were only two years apart. And I was like, ‘Yeah, I think we can do some good work together.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’ And so we met up. ‘You want to do a movie with me?’ He said ‘Yeah.’ I say, ‘You want to do a movie with Janet Jackson?’ He said, ‘Hell yeah.’”
Again, Singleton’s remembrance of Shakur are among the reflections found on the first-ever Blu-ray release of “Poetic Justice,” from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which marked Jackson’s first appearance on the big screen. The Blu-ray will include a newly remastered version of “Poetic Justice as well as bonus content consisting of 10 never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes, a rare look at Jackson and Shakur’s original screen test and a new retrospective interview with Singleton.
Written and directed by Singleton, “Poetic Justice” centers on Justice (Jackson), who ends up on a road trip from South Central Los Angeles to Oakland with her friend Iesha (Regina King), Iesah’s boyfriend Chicago (Joe Torry) and his friend Lucky (Shakur). As the road trip continues and Iesha and Chicago fight –and make up– in the back of the van, Justice and Lucky find themselves reluctantly drawn together before being confronted once again by the shocking violence they thought they’d left behind. In addition to Shakur, Jackson, King and Torry, “Poetic Justice starred Lori Petty (“A League of Their Own”) and acclaimed poet Maya Angelou, whose poems are featured in the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated 1993 romantic drama.
Since the release of “Poetic Justice,” Shakur’s star only rose as he became one of the most influential rappers to hold a mic and very much revered by fans.Yet if you ask Singleton, the Shakur’s acting skills deserved more of his focus than his ability to craft effective rhymes. So much so that Singleton can lay claim to being one of the few who let Shakur know that he was “not that good of a rapper.”
“I’m probably only the only dumb person in Tupac’s life to ever tell him, ‘You’re not that good of a rapper. You should just act. Forget that rap stuff,’ the filmmaker shared on the “Poetic Justice” featurette. “And he was like ‘Man, f— you.’ (laughs). He actually said, ‘Music is my life. I gotta do my music. I’m a rapper. I’m a rapper. I love hip-hop. Hip-hop is my life.
“But he was a natural actor,” Singleton added, “and people don’t really understand that he studied acting in high school and he did plays and Shakespeare in high school.”