MTV NEWS: Murdered rap star Tupac Shakur came back to life on the nation's movie screens this week, winning critical praise for his work in the new film "Gridlocked," in which he and Tim Roth play a pair of heroin addicts trying to clean up. Judging by the five movies he made before he was shot and killed in Las Vegas last year, Tupac's greatest talent may have been for acting. Here's a quick retrospective.
TUPAC as BISHOP, from "Juice": Everything starts from now. We all go down unless we stay together.
ERNEST DICKERSON, Director: What makes Tupac so dynamic as an actor is that he puts himself into it. He had some training you know when he was younger, and uh, actors, the best actors always have to dig deep down inside themselves. A lot of times what they give you onscreen is part of them. And that's something that Tupac has always done.
MTV: Tupac Shakur's film roles were often variations on his real life thug image, but by mot accounts, he brought depth and
authenticity to parts that could have been melodramatic.
TUPAC as LUCKY, from "Poetic Justice": This here is kind of cool. I ain't ever seen so many black folks in one spot and there ain't no fight.
MTV: "Gridlock'd" is about two heroin addicts struggling to go straight, is Tupac's posthumous entry into the acting big leagues, starring opposite Oscar nominee and independent film darling, Tim Roth.
TIM ROTH: The media portrays addicts as faceless objects. And I think that what's interesting about this is that you, you go on a journey, and you discover these people. And they're human, you know. They're three dimensional, and they're not just a waste of time and space.
VONDIE CURTIS HALL, Director: He loved him. He'd seen every movie Tim had done. He's like "I just really want to work with Tim, man." And, this movie is a different kind of movie. It would show a different Tupac, and it does. He's completely different in this picture, than he was in any other
OWEN GLEIBERMAN, film critic: It's interesting to watch him in this movie and see that he radiates a kind of warmth and humanity and modesty almost completely at odds with his image as a rapper.
MTV: Tupac does rap in "Gridlock'd," but even the film's music provided room for growth.
HALL: It's a great soundtrack. Tupac has about five new songs on it . One of the songs Tandy does from spoken word, Tupac does spoken word with her.
HALL: Tupac never got to see the film. He was, he was coming back to do some looping, and to see the, see the picture the following week. And the three of us were actually going to be in the studio together.
ROTH: The day after.
HALL: Yeah, the day after and: you know, I spoke to him. He went to the MTV awards. "I'm going to do the MTV awards." And, it was like Wednesday, and then... 'I'm going to see Mike fight on, on Friday, and then I, I'll see you guys on Monday. Monday or Tuesday, and you know...
ROTH: And that was it.
MTV NEWS: The "Gridlocked" soundtrack, by the way, contains Tupac's last collaboration with Snoop Doggy Dogg, a cut called "Out The Moon." Tupac the actor will be on view again in the fall, co-starring with James Belushi in a movie called "Gang-Related." Meanwhile, Tupac's murderers remain at large... And Suge Knight, the head of his label, Death Row Records, remains in jail awaiting sentencing February 28th on a parole-violation charge.
One last, happier hip-hop note: the Fugees will be spending the summer in Jamaica and Brooklyn, appearing in a sequel to the cult-classic 1973 reggae movie, "The Harder They Come." Original star Jimmy Cliff is back on board, and the new film's title, inevitably, is..."The Harder They Fall."