Tupac Shakur’s socially conscious poetry and fiery, political lyrics are forever cemented in music history, but the legendary rapper also had a burgeoning career in acting. Upon the time of his tragic murder in September 1996, Tupac was becoming all the more prolific as a performer, his filmography growing even after his death. What’s more, there was a chance that, eventually, audiences would have seen the rapper/actor pop up in big-budget movies like the “Star Wars” prequels, in which George Lucas may have cast him as Mace Windu.
Tupac was always involved in the world of the stage ever since his childhood days at the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he acted in Shakespeare productions that would influence his depictions of gang conflicts. The artist’s breakout lead role was in the 1992 crime drama “Juice,” in which future Mace Windu actor Samuel L. Jackson also appeared in (before this, he made a musical cameo in Dan Aykroyd’s 1991 gonzo black comedy film, “Nothing but Trouble”). Besides this, Tupac also starred in the 1993 romance “Poetic Justice” alongside Janet Jackson, the sports film “Above the Rim” written by “New Jack City” scribe Barry Michael Cooper, and the posthumously released “Bullet” and “Gridlock’d.”
In what was probably more than a bit of typecasting, Tupac’s roles were often based in gritty, urban environments and involved crime and drugs. However, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” would have presented him a truly different opportunity to play a Jedi Master in a galaxy far, far away.
‘Pac The Jedi
According to former Death Row Records chief engineer Rick Clifford, George Lucas was eyeing Tupac to star in his return to the “Star Wars” saga. Clifford talked about how understandably excited Tupac was for the role, and how Samuel L. Jackson eventually replaced him (via Rolling Stone):
“‘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. […] He was telling me that he was supposed to read for George Lucas and them. They wanted him to be a Jedi. I’m serious. Samuel L. [Jackson] got Tupac’s part. [Tupac] said [to me], ‘Old man, keep your fingers crossed.’ He said, ‘I’ve got three movies coming up. One of them, I’ve got to read for George Lucas.'”
It’s officially unclear as to whether Lucas’ had actually made a final decision on Tupac’s casting by the time of his death, and Lucas himself has never commented on the possibility. It might have not been the only time that Tupac would have entered the world of blockbuster science-fiction, either. There’s a chance that he also could have played Will Smith’s role of Captain Steve Hiller in “Independence Day.” Reflecting the superstar rapper’s life and death, stories and rumors that speculate about what his future career would have been will always be as mysterious as they are tragic.
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/Film – Tupac Shakur Could’ve Played Mace Windu In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Author: Andrew Housman
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March 13, 2023