By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 15, 2011 at 1:37AM
Production Leaning Towards Casting An Unknown In The Lead Role
About a weak ago, the Tupac biopic, which had been gearing up for much of the year, suddenly looked dead in the water. Director Antoine Fuqua was suddenly looking at working with another rapper, Eminem, on a boxing drama, leaving the fate of the Makaveli story on shaky ground. The rapper's mother Afeni had approved of Fuqua and with him bouncing, it would potentially put the project on hold while another suitable choice was sought out, but it appears that the producers are doing everything they can to keep the director on board.
24 Frames reveals that Morgan Creek has signed Fuqua to pay-or-play deal on the film. Essentially, it's a sign of their commitment to work with Fuqua. The most memorable case of pay-or-play in recent memory belongs to Denzel Washington and "American Gangster." Universal had signed both Washington and Benicio Del Toro to pay-or-play deals to do the film, but when the studio made a last minute decision to cancel the project, they had to pony up $20 million to Washington and $5 million to Del Toro. Ironically, Fuqua was attached to direct an early incarnation, but that film eventually did get made. Now, would "American Gangster" have ever have lensed had Universal not already paid out $25 million in fees? Who knows, but there may have been a bit more pressure to at least make some good about the dollars they already spent (though yes, a much smaller budget certainly helped greenlight the eventual movie).
As for the Tupac movie, the hunt is still on for the right person to take on the iconic lead role. Apparently, the production has met with established actors but are leaning toward using a similar tactic employed by the filmmakers of "Notorious" -- hiring an unknown who looks like Tupac and then giving him acting training. However, it appears that not everyone involved agrees with going in this direction -- could this be why Fuqua started looking elsewhere for another project to do?
In any event, Fuqua now seems attached to both the Fuqua and Eminem movies, with the former possibly going first if all the elements come into play quickly. So for now, Lesane Parish Crooks looks like he'll be getting his due on the big screen.