“All Eyez On Me” Star Demetrius Shipp Jr. Covers Rolling Out Magazine
Demetrius Shipp Jr. Covers Rolling Out Magazine“All Eyez On Me” actor talks playing one of the most iconic artists in the history of hip-hop, Tupac Shakur. While talking about preparing for the role which took half a decade, he said:
“It was a long time coming,” he recalls. “At that time, it was four or five years, I started in 2011. So a little over four years of preparation in trying to get the role. So aside from [being] excited, it was just [the] amazement that it’s come full circle.
Shipp also spoke about how he researched the character of Tupac.
“As far as research goes, I just watched a ton of video on Tupac. There’s a lot of him on YouTube. Night in and night out, I just watched that. And my acting coach, she put it on us to try and dive into his mind: what he liked, what his upbringing was like. I learned about the Black Panther Party. He loved Shakespeare — I read Shakespeare. Malcolm X. The Art of War.”
Shipp also spent time with those who knew Shakur best.
“E.D.I. Mean [of the Outlawz] was really dope — a great insight,” he shares. “For me, I wanted to know the intimate stuff about Pac. I feel like that was what we were trying to [convey]. I wanted to know how he was at the house, just chilling.
“Treach came to the set when I was filming the courtroom scenes, when [Shakur] was getting sentenced. Treach had tears in his eyes and he said, ‘You’re bringing my homie back to life.’ That was really his boy; Pac and Treach [were] really tight. I didn’t know that [he] and Busta Rhymes had a good relationship. Busta watched the movie tearing up.”
One has to be mindful of getting the details right when depicting true events that actually affected many of the people who will see the film. This was what Shipp was able to nail if the reactions of those who knew Shakur is anything to judge from.
“They’re not playing to my feelings,” Shipp says. “Nobody’s like, ‘OK, we don’t want to hurt this guy’s feelings, so say that he’s doing a good job.’ This is Tupac. They’re not going to be nice about it. Either they like it or they’re gonna say something about it. The reception has been good. Snoop [cried] in admiration of the film and missing his friend and understanding what happened.
“Leila Steinberg was Tupac’s manager and really responsible for bringing him to Digital Underground. She was the spark of his career. She is a big part of Tupac becoming the artist that he became. She came in like, ‘I was ready to tear this down. I didn’t believe anybody could get this right and capture the essence. But you made it happen.’ ”
Regarding the Tupac fandom, Demetrius Shipp Jr. said:
“Everybody has the Tupac that they admire,” Shipp says. “Certain people love the hip-hop person, the rapper. Strictly just the rapper. A lot of people, the newfound Tupac fans … they’re into Death Row-era Tupac. But that was only nine months! People think he was with Death Row all these years because he put out albums — [it was] technically nine months. But then you have the people that love the revolutionary side of Tupac. Some people like the crazy side of him [that was] always turnt up! Some people like the more sophisticated, voice of the people, leader-type of Tupac. We tried to combine all of that into one and present him as truthfully as possible.”
Demetrius Shipp Jr. Covers Rolling Out Magazine — “All Eyez On Me” Star Talks Playing One Of The Most Iconic Artists In The History Of Hip-Hop
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