John Singleton has had a particularly unsatisfying Hollywood career. He started off directing BOYZ N THE HOOD, for which he became the youngest ever nominee for the Best Director Oscar (as well as the first black man to be nominated for the award). This year he directed ABDUCTION, the Taylor Lautner vehicle that I haven’t seen but has mixed reviews. He’s a perfect example of an exceptional amount of promise never really coming to much. Hopefully, though, he’ll get another chance at relevancy, as rumours abound that he might direct an upcoming biopic of rap legend Tupac Shakur.
Tupac, who appeared in a surprising number of films, has in fact worked with Singleton before. POETIC JUSTICE, Singleton’s follow up to BOYZ stared Shakur alongside Janet Jackson of all people, and was fairly well received. Tupac’s life story is chock full of drama, with legal issues, a rise to the top and prison scenes. Perhaps the most famous moment of Shakur’s life is his death by drive-by shooting, still a controversial and much-discussed topic to this day. The script comes from Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson, who have proven their ability to tackle tricky real life material with ALI and NIXON.
Two years ago, Fox Searchlight released NOTORIOUS, a biopic of equally legendary rapper Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie and Tupac’s is by far the most storied rivalry in rap, so Shakur appeared in this film. Here he was played by THE HURT LOCKER’s Anthony Mackie. It is likely Singleton and co will want their own Tupac, but some amount of crossover could be interesting (particularly Jamal Woolard as Biggie, who garnered most of the film’s praise for his performance). It is reported that Singleton has turned down an NWA biopic for the Tupac film, perhaps to avoid stepping on his old pal Ice Cube’s toes, perhaps because it sounded less interesting. Either way, Tupac’s story certainly contains a good deal of intrigue, and could give Singleton a chance to show why he was once such a promising talent.