The late director John Singleton was responsible for many legendary films. However, two of his most renowned films are Boyz n the Hood and Poetic Justice, both released in the early 1990s. The latter is iconic due to its cast featuring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. However, few know that prior to Shakur, Singleton had asked Crenshaw emcee Ice Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) to star in the movie.
Jackson has played several roles during his career and has always looked back fondly on his various roles. From Friday to Ride Along and Are We There Yet?, the rapper and actor is one of the only MCs in history who has dominated both hip-hop and Hollywood simultaneously.
However, in 1992, when John Singleton approached him to play the role of Lucky in Poetic Justice, Jackson wasn’t prepared to accept the offer, even with the knowledge that the director had secured Janet Jackson to play his counterpart in the movie.
In an interview with The Television Academy Foundation, prior to his passing, Singleton explained that Jackson couldn’t get into it, stating, “Ice Cube was supposed to play opposite her, and he was like, ‘Nah, I can’t do romance’.”
However, in a 2021 interview with Big Boy for the radio show ‘Big Boy’s Neighborhood’ on LA’s Real 92.3, Ice Cube told a different story, unveiling it was the script that put him off. Elaborating, Jackson explained, “So, when I read it, I only had one problem with it, and he didn’t want to change it.
He continued, “The problem was I didn’t think me playing Tupac that I would kick my homeboy out the car for a girl I just met when we got to Oakland. I didn’t think that was cool. To me, it made the character kind of a sucker.”
Ice Cube revealed that 2Pac did an excellent job with Poetic Justice and “killed” the role. Furthermore, he insisted he was glad that Shakur got the part following his rejection. Poetic Justice dropped in July 1993, marking Tupac’s second feature film.
In a 1993 interview with E News!, 2Pac disclosed that playing Lucky was therapeutic for him, stating, “It was therapeutic for this period in my life. I needed to do a part like this. It would let me look inward to see where I was as a person—as a human being. And it left me with some good foundation to move on. I like to think that I do my thing for the young Black man. This is just another way since my rapping is geared mostly toward a certain crowd.”
You can watch Ice Cube speak about his Poetic Justice rejection in the video below.