Tupac Shakur was one of the most well-known rappers in the world and, during the 1990s, was the go-to artist if you wanted hardcore and passionate gangsta rhymes. As the primary artist of Dr Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, 2pac undeniably made massive hits and, before his murder in 1996, was one of the most famous artists in the world
However, before Tupac made it big and was signed to Death Row in LA, Pac was making music in other places with other people. Before settling in Los Angeles with his mother, Shakur lived in a number of places, including The Bronx, Harlem, Marin City, Oakland and Baltimore.
Although as a child, Pac lived in Harlem, as he started entering double digits, he moved with his mother to the East Coast city of Baltimore, which is one of America’s most dangerous cities. While living here, Shakur spent two years at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School before transferring to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied jazz, poetry, ballet, and acting.
While studying at Baltimore School for the Arts, Shakur had an extremely close relationship with Jada Pinkett-Smith. However, he soon left for California. But the rapper never lost his passion for acting. The rapper, akin to artists such as Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks, was actually aspiring to be an actor before he fell into the world of rap.
With some experience and knowledge of acting, it is no surprise that when Pac became a global rap sensation, he received offers for roles in film and TV. The rapper did appear in several movies, including Above The Rim, Poetic Justice, and Bullet. However, there were also some films he was close to starring in but didn’t quite make the cut.
According to several Hollywood sources, Shakur auditioned for the role of Jedi Master Mace Windu in the 1999 movie Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Rick Clifford, who was one of the main audio engineers at Death Row Records, disclosed in a 2014 interview how, during a studio session, Shakur told him he had gone for a reading with George Lucas, the legendary Star Wars.
Audio engineers are required in various industries but including music and film. Clifford (who was one of the best in LA at the time) revealed that in 1996, “Pac found out that I worked for Brian Austin Green, who was on 90210, then he found out I [worked on] some movies, so we always talked about his film career and stuff!”
Of course, Shakur didn’t feature in the 1999 film, which was released well after his death, but casting for the film franchise was announced in 1996, just before the rapper was murdered. Renowned actor Samuel L. Jackson ended up filling the role of Jedi Master Mace Windu.
Another movie that the Death Row rapper was supposed to feature in was Higher Learning. In a sit-down interview with VLADTV, esteemed actor Michael Rapaport explained to the host DJ Vlad about the first time he met Shakur and disclosed details about the original cast of the 1995 film.
Rapaport explained how, initially, the cast of Higher Learning featured both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tupac, with the latter cast in the role of Malik. However, Shakur had to pull out because of his arrest. Rapaport detailed how the original line-up crumbled, disclosing, “When Tupac dropped out, then Leonardo dropped out, and Gwyneth dropped out,”
He continued, “I mean, this didn’t like happen in a day; it happened like over a period. Nobody was locked in. I think Tupac was locked in. People were sort of circling around the film this is two or three months away. So it wasn’t like, ‘Tupac’s out, I’m bailing.’” You can watch the rapport interview in the video below.