Seven years after his death, Tupac Shakur is still a draw in Hollywood.
Celebrity fans like Cedric the Entertainer and Stevie Wonder, along with some of the hip-hop icon’s family and friends, beared the unusually chilly Los Angeles weather Tuesday to catch the premiere of “Tupac: Resurrection” at the Cinerama Dome.
With the exception of some occasional small-talk about the weather, conversations centered on Tupac — with everyone from his mother to classic rocker Edgar Winter singing his praises.
“It’s amazing that all these people are still listening to his music and finding meaning in his struggle that he expressed through his art,” said John Singleton, who directed Tupac and Janet Jackson in “Poetic Justice.”
“Tupac was ahead of his time,” added actor Mike Epps, before bragging to his date about his collection of Tupac bootlegs. “His music was touching. It sounded like he was talking directly to you.”
Lauren Lazin, who directed the documentary, arrived early and was all smiles, happy that her movie will finally hit theaters on November 14.
“Through this film we’re discovering a new Tupac,” Lazin said. “People feel like they know Tupac, but he was such a complicated and intense person. It’s a very intimate, personal film [showcasing] his intelligence, his humor, his heart.”
Snoop Dogg, who was scheduled to attend, was nowhere to be found, but fellow rappers MC Lyte and the Outlawz, along with Wonder, represented for the music contingent.
“He was an incredible poet,” Wonder said. “Sincerity is always relevant.”
Cedric the Entertainer was the big hit for the paparazzi, posing up a storm, while fellow actors Mario Van Peebles, Djimon Hounsou and Flex Alexander slid past the red carpet.
Jasmine Guy did the rounds with reporters to talk about her upcoming book about Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, called “Evolution of a Revolutionary” and due in February.
“It’s about Afeni, who was a Black Panther in a position of power,” Guy said. “The fact that [Afeni and Tupac] are both so resilient is something people will draw from.”
Guy was interrupted by her publicist, who announced the arrival of the woman of the hour: Afeni Shakur herself.
Afeni spent a lot of time hugging friends but made sure to talk about the movie. “[After seeing it for the first time,] I looked at my son’s picture and said, ‘We’ve done a good job,’ ” Shakur said. “And that’s how I still feel. I think Tupac would be very happy with the job we’ve done. And I’m proud of it.”
Edgar Winter, whose “Dying to Live” is sampled on the “Tupac: Resurrection” soundtrack’s Eminem-produced first single, “Running (Dying to Live)” (see “Eminem Produces Track Featuring Both Tupac And Biggie” ), may have looked a little out of place, but he felt strongly about being a part of the movie.
“It’s all about survival, whether it’s fighting for your country or trying to make it one more day on the street,” Winter said of his song (see “Eminem: Reconstructing Tupac”). “I want to thank Eminem for hearing the pain and the joy and the humanity in the song in a way I would have never imagined.”
Lazin is hoping the excitement at Tuesday’s premiere is representative of the interest in Tupac nationwide.
“It’s the largest release ever for a documentary feature, so it’s real important the Tupac fans get out there and support it,” she said.