- Tupac Shakur, in his biography Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography, landed the role of Roland Bishop in the 1992 crime thriller Juice.
- Producers and director were impressed by Tupac’s audition, which resulted in a standing ovation from the room.
- Although told he had a promising future in movies, Tupac prophetically stated that it would never happen due to the harrowing homicide statistics that plagued young Black men.
In an excerpt from Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography by Staci Robinson, it is revealed how the famous rapper won the role of Roland Bishop in the critically acclaimed 1992 crime thriller Juice. According to producers, Tupac’s powerful performance in the film could have kickstarted a major movie career for him. Nevertheless, Shakur doubted his success in the film industry, especially in light of the disturbing homicide statistics affecting young Black men in America.
When producer Neal H. Moritz assured him that a promising film career was ahead, Shakur responded, “I’m not going to be alive.” The late rapper’s friend, fellow rapper Money-B, who was also auditioning for Juice, encouraged him to try out as well. Money-B recalls their plan to be cast in the three major roles, making them “real friends being friends in the movie.”
Although Tupac did not have an official audition, director Ernest R. Dickerson spotted him in the waiting room and asked if he was interested in auditioning. After impressing the director and casting agents, they asked him to stay longer and read for a different, bigger role. Tupac said of the experience, “I read cold turkey, walked in there, picked up the sides and just read. And I got that part. That was God.”
Money-B remembers the response to Tupac’s audition: “All of a sudden you hear cheering. And people standing up and whistling and everything.” Dickerson affirmed Tupac’s unique understanding of the character he would play, stating, “The thing that he got that nobody else got was the pain.”
Producer David Heyman recalls Tupac’s parting words after the audition, delivered with a “wink and a smile”: “You better give me the part because I know where y’all live.” Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson and written by Dickerson and Gerard Brown, Juice starred Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins, Khalil Kain, and Tupac Shakur in his acting debut. The film is available for streaming on various platforms, including Max, Prime Video, and Apple TV+.